BCM43xx wireless range

August 26, 2007

This weekend, I'm at the annual Debian BBQ in Cambridge, and it's very nice weather. All the cool people are sitting outside with their laptops, a good 10-20 meters from the indoor wireless access point, happily using the internet. The problem is, by default, my wireless card just doesn't work at that range.

So, today I had a look at the Broadcom bcm43xx driver code, to see what was going on. After reading a thread on the LKML bcm43xx-dev, it turns out that the current versions of this driver do not automatically adjust the bitrate. Manually setting the bitrate to a low value has got me at least double the range:

sudo iwconfig eth1 rate 1M

Of course, this isn't ideal. The same thread mentions that automatic rate adjustment will be implemented in the driver some time soon - which will be really useful.

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