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What the numbers mean
Authored by: kevinp on Sep 10, '10 11:59:16AM
Actually your description, "the signal loss in dB," is not quite correct. A "loss" would have to be relative to something. The confusion comes about because the numbers are negative and because smaller (less negative) values indicate a stronger signal.

The display indicates signal strength in dBm, which compares the received signal to 1 milliwatt (an enormously strong value for a received radio signal). Zero doesn't mean "no loss", it mean a 1mW signal. Since the scale is logarithmic, all vales less than 1mW are shown as negative numbers. For example, -92 dBm is about one billionth of a milliwatt and -121 is about one thousand times smaller than that!

This enormous range of useful values explains the use of a logarithmic scale and, incidentally, the controversy about how best to condense this information into a meaningful five-bar scale.

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Kevin Patfield


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What the numbers mean
Authored by: crarko on Sep 10, '10 12:11:06PM

Thanks for the clarification!

Craig A



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