When a computer, usually a laptop, needs a wireless Internet connection, it can use an AirCard® unit to establish a wireless connection. Under normal conditions, the AirCard® will be able to easily connect to the Internet when there is a hotspot around. If the computer is on the outer fringe of the hotspot, the AirCard® may not be able to connect. This is where an AirCard® antenna comes in. Like other antennas, an AirCard® antenna increases the computer’s chances of connecting with the Internet signal.
An AirCard® antenna is used to boost the computer’s ability to connect to low-strength signals and to keep the connection. While this is the main purpose for using an antenna, it also offers several other advantages even if the signal strength is good without the antenna. It can increase speeds, which is useful even in high-signal-strength areas, and improves the signal’s stability.
The AirCard® antenna is an external unit and is never used internally, because it would not fit inside the computer. Most AirCard® units do not come with an antenna; rather the antenna is a separate unit that connects with the AirCard® and it typically is purchased separately. This connection is made either by twisting on a coupling unit or just snapping it on the AirCard®. Installation of the antenna is typically easy and only takes a few seconds.
When adding new hardware such as a mouse or a printer to a computer, the computer typically needs drivers or special software to use the hardware. Unlike these hardware units, an AirCard® antenna does not need any software to work. It is made to work as soon as it is connected, so the user does not need to enable the antenna or install any software.
Some AirCard® antenna units come as a small hard antenna, while others come as a long soft antenna. Small hard antennas are typically about 1 inch (about 2.5 centimeters), while the soft antennas are much longer. Soft antennas usually come with Velcro® attachments so the antenna can attach to the back of the computer without hanging down the side of the machine and being an annoyance.
Most AirCard® antennas cannot be used for every computer or AirCard® unit. There are generally several AirCard® units a particular antenna can work with. Before purchasing an antenna unit, it is best to determine if the antenna works with the AirCard® on the specific computer.