The stated average range of a piece of consumer 802.11b equipment is 300 to 1,500 feet. Of course, this estimate is what is printed on the side of the box, and the number is chosen to be somewhere between actual technical constraints and the marketing department's agenda—and should therefore be taken with the standard issue grain of salt. What the side of the box doesn't tell you is that radio range isn't something built into a product, but is in fact the same for all wireless devices: potentially infinite, but bounded by transmitter power, antenna gain, clean line of sight, and relative noise in the environment.
While the intended range might just be a couple hundred feet, wireless aficionados everywhere have proven that it is possible to use the 802.11 family of devices to build reliable data links of 10 miles or more. The hacks in this chapter expose some of the important details you need to keep in mind, as well as techniques you can use to make your wireless network projects possible.
A web application and a few digital elevation models can significantly ease the pain of building wireless networks in remote areas.
If you're trying to build wireless community networks out in the hills, like the NoCat Network has done in Sonoma County, California, the first thing you discover is that hills eat Wi-Fi signals for lunch. Wireless networking technologies ...