A panel antenna is a kind of directional antenna used in broadcast engineering, most often used to obtain a wireless Internet connection. Directional antennas receive and transmit a signal in one specific direction, which allows for a better signal. Its design originates in military technology, and uses wave guide technology to focus ingoing and outgoing radio signals into a focused, effective signal by concentrating their energy. A panel antenna is similar to a sector antenna, which is a directional antenna used in telecommunications for cell phone connectivity and wireless Internet.
Technology, such as panel antennas, is used in the developing world to increase the range and capability of wireless Internet networks. Under optimal conditions for signal broadcast and setup, this type of antenna may extend wireless connectivity up to 10 miles (16.1 km). In the United States and many other countries around the world, caution must be exercised that the antenna that is being used is compliant with regulations related to allowed amount of signal output.
A panel antenna is shaped like a panel, and is usually attached to a mounting bracket, which may then be affixed to the side of a building or inside a building. Additionally, it may be mounted on a swivel mount, which allows the user to position the antenna for optimal concentration of signal strength. Generally, this type of antenna is one-directional, with less movement side-to-side and up and down than an omni-directional antenna, which is an antenna where the position may be fully swiveled and adjusted.
Panel antennas are constructed for both indoor and outdoor use. They are normally made of hardy and corrosion-resistant material, such as polycarbonate, to ensure that they will effectively withstand the elements in an outdoor environment. A well-constructed panel antenna is able to endure high winds and extreme temperatures without damage, often up to over 100 miles per hour (161 kilometers per hour), and -22 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 degrees Celsius to 50 degrees Celsius), respectively.
There are many different varieties of panel antennas available. The antenna that is required will be based on requirements for connection and compatibility provided by the different brands. A panel antenna can also be hooked up to a router in order to gain or improve wireless Internet connectivity in a building or group of buildings. It may be attached through a USB wireless adapter or directly to a router that has an antenna connection.