Attenuation (also referred to as loss) is a physical loss that occurs with any type of signal, (digital or analog) and refers to the reduction in the strength of a signal, which is a natural consequence of that signal traveling over the specific medium for long distances. Objects and conflicting bands of wireless signal may cause attenuation outside of expected performance parameters. Determining loss in different areas is important in diagnosing WLAN network issues.
In physics, attenuation or, in some contexts, extinction is the gradual loss of flux intensity through a medium. For instance, dark glasses attenuate sunlight, lead attenuates X-rays, and water and air attenuate both light and sound at variable attenuation rates.
In electrical engineering and telecommunications, attenuation affects the propagation of waves and signals in electrical circuits, in optical fibers, and in air. Electrical attenuators and optical attenuators are commonly manufactured components in this field.