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Some people use a DIY parabolic foil around a wifi dongle to get better signal from a weak public WiFi hotspot, and some people buy a wifi dongle with an antenna that looks like a long vertical stick. Would these tricks also increase upload speed even though the parabolic foil is only at the dongle side and not at the router side, or even though the vertical stick is only added to the dongle and no additional stick was added to the router aside from the two sticks that it usually have already?

Or is it the case that the router says "I cannot get good signal from you, Wifi dongle. You can hear me well, but I cannot hear you well. Your upload will go slow, dongle."

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Enhancing the antenna works both ways - better signal in, better signal out. Roughly like speaking through a megaphone, and then using the same megaphone as an ear-trumpet.

Raising the transmit power works only one way (it would work as you postulate in the second case, if transmit power were turned up on the hotspot; the same case but in reverse if it were turned up on the dongle. Neither works well, since one side of the conversation is shouting while the other is whispering.)

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Some further questions: 1. "Enhancing the antenna works both ways - better signal in, better signal out" By antennas, do you mean both the parabolic DIY foil and the vertical stick on the dongle side? 2. Transmit power is what's referred to as "output power" in a dongle specifications? –  Le Curious Oct 21 '13 at 6:36
    
The foil-reflector arrangement serves to enhance the built-in antenna. The "stick" is an antenna. Both improve transmission and reception. Output power is transmit power, yes. –  Ecnerwal Oct 21 '13 at 12:58

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