Wireless Channels and Dealing with Signal Interference

Selecting WLAN Channels in 2.4GHZ Spectrum based on common default channels, and interference patterns cause by signal width

Steve Smith talks about WLAN channels, channel width, signal width, and how to determine which channel is best based on known channel defaults.

Episode #3-22 released on February 24, 2013

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The wireless network band is not a straight stream of data, its a multiple lane highway, with a lot of traffic. Understanding this very basic idea is important when choosing a channel to lock onto for your network. The issue with networking is that for most of the world using wireless networking in the 2.4GHZ band, there is only 11 channels with widths of 20mhz. And, for those using wireless N, the 11 channel traffic jam is compounded with the potential of having signals taking up 40mhz in width, as oppose to just 20mhz, which is like having a two lane wide truck, on a highway sharing traffic with other cars trying to pass around the larger than usual truck.

This is an issue with the 2.4GHZ Band, since the 5GHZ band, also, used by Wireless N, isn't affected in this way, and has many non-overlapping radio channels, something 2.4GHZ networking has little of.

Other than bore you to death with the specifics of channel width, I've come out with a few suggestions of network arrangements you can do to limit congestion, and easy communications between your devices.

One way of preventing issues between your wireless N devices, and all other previous generation wireless devices, is to separate their wireless internet access. Some routers have two sets of internal antennas, aka known as a guest wireless network, use that to serve your previous generation hardware, and use the 5GHZ band to serve your newest wireless N or better devices from the primary antenna.

If you have a relatively inexpensive router with only one internal antenna, you may want to purchase a second one, and daisy chain them together. If able, activate one in the 2.4GHZ band, and the other in the 5GHZ band.

And, if you are anything like myself, consider upgrading your devices to the latest wireless standards by visiting your local computer hardware store and buying new wireless networking cards. Laptops can, also, be upgraded by swapping their wireless card, normally under the keyboard tray, or accessible from underneath.

If you are stuck using the 2.4GHZ band, and have issues with your internet experience, consider using the following channels for wireless G or N in areas limited to 11 channels: 1, 6, or 11, or if you have access to channels 1 through 13 consider using 1, 5, 9, or 13. If you are only using wireless N, and want to stay within the 2.4GHZ band, use channel 3 or 11.

As a rule of thumb, many routers automatically select channels based on availability of channels in the area your router is in, however the default channel is typically 6. You may want to stay closer to channel 1, or as high as channel 11 or 13, if available. Using the maximum broadcast power from your router may have a positive effect on range.

Other things in your home that can affect your 2.4GHZ network are your cordless phones, bluetooth, microwave ovens, and some cordless headsets. These things you can change, or not use during intensive wireless activities. The type of paint on walls, wiring, other wireless networks, etc... can, also, play an important role on your own wireless networking experience.

Next week, I will explain why you can only use less than 4GBs of RAM in a 32Bit environment.

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Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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