What is Wi-F?
WiFi creates Internet and network connections using wireless network technology in the form of radio waves. The frequency of WiFi radio waves can fall either in 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. A variety of devices have the capability to receive WiFi signals, including phones, computers, and tablets. Many factors affect the speed and quality of wireless connections. Some of these factors could be the distance between the router and WiFi enabled device, obstructions physically blocking signals from reaching a device, or what channel the router is set to.
What does Frequency Mean?
Frequency is a complicated scientific term in the realm of physics which surprisingly applies to WiFi. In general terms, it measures how fast the radio wave (or any other kind of waves) vibrate. When discussing WiFi, the radio frequency which is used can describe the method in which WiFi transmits information.
The frequency of WiFi can be either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. Many expensive routers have offered either band for a while, but more and more modern routers offer this choice. Each is beneficial depending on the exact situation. 5 GHz frequency WiFi tends to give faster connection speeds, but its range travels less distance than 2.4 GHz.
What is a WiFi Channel?
While the frequency of a WiFi network is a good general description of the type of network being used, it can be broken down into smaller bands called channels as well. Think of these as analogous to TV channels. There are 11 in total, which are numbered from lowest frequency to highest frequency. Channel 11 has the highest frequency and channel 1 has the lowest.
What is the Difference Between Wi-Fi Channels?
Although the analogy with TV channels is good conceptually, it breaks down a little bit when covering the topic of interference. This is because interference can, and frequently does, occur with WiFi channels but is impossible with TV channels. This means that a select number of WiFi channels are usable because they do not interfere with each other. These are channel 1, channel 6, and channel 11. Interference is defined by multiple signals crossing over one another, which can cause slow performance in the case of WiFi.
While the aforementioned channels do not interfere with each other, they can interfere with themselves. This means that any two or more devices using a single channel, channel 1 for example, can interfere with each other. One problem with this is that many wireless enabled routers are set to default to channel 6, so they will interfere with each other unless the channel is changed in the router settings.
One of the factors to consider whenever you are experiencing slow WiFi speeds is the channel your router is set to transmit. If you happen to be using the same channel as other routers around you, this could interfere with your router and explain the slow speeds. It may be tempting to switch to a channel other than 1, 6, or 11, but this is not a good idea because they will interfere with all other channels in the area.
What is the best channel for WiFi?
In general, the best WiFi channel will be the one with the least amount of other devices on it. To identify your current performance as well as see what other channels are in your area, it is crucial to use a WiFi site survey like the one offered by NetSpot. Compared to its competitors, NetSpot is the best option. Among many features it offers is the ability to visually display the signal emitting from your router and help identify any issue that could be causing slow WiFi speeds. “Discover Mode” gives the ability to visualize which channels are in use in the area near your router as well as which signals are interfering with each other.
How do I change my WiFi channel?
Once the favorable channel for any given situation is identified, you will need to change your router to ensure it is emitting signal in that channel. The first step is to find the IP address of your router. Note that all routers are able to change channels, regardless of the age or expense of the router.
If you are using a Mac computer, navigate to Network under System Preferences followed by Advanced and TCP/IP. Copy the number next to “Router”, as this is the number that is critical rather than the other two numbers that will appear.
If you are using a Microsoft (or Windows) computer, the process is different to Mac computers. First, you will need to view network status and tasks which is located under the control panel. Navigate to network connections and click on details. This time, the number to copy will be next to “IPV4 Default Gateway”.
From now on, the process will be identical for Windows or Mac computers. Take the IP address you copied using the instructions above and paste it into the URL bar of your browser. This should work regardless of what browser you prefer to use. After doing this, a login prompt will ask for an administrator’s password. This is required to log into your Router’s settings and change the WiFi channel. If you have not changed the default password since purchasing the router, “admin” is the default password on many routers. If this does not work, look at the router for a sticker which may display the default password. Alternatively, look in the owner’s manual or look up where to find the password for your specific router.
After you successfully find the password and are granted access into your router’s settings, the administrator interface of your router will be displayed. What exactly is shown may vary based on the specific router you have. The option to change WiFi channel frequently can be found within some kind of “Advanced Settings” menu. After changing channels, open a WiFi channel scanner to verify the channel has successfully been changed.