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Change the Channel

Has your wireless always been fast, but it seems to have suddenly slowed down? You may be experiencing wireless congestion! Changing your wireless channel may help you to avoid this congestion and improve your speed. 

Checking for wireless congestion is easy! In fact, both Windows and Mac computers come with built in utilities to do just that.

Checking for Wireless Congestion (Windows):

  1. On your keyboard, press the Windows Key + R. (The windows key can be found between the CRTL and ALT keys)
  2. Type "cmd" into the Run window which should have popped up.
  3. Click OK or press Enter.
  4. Enter "netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid" into the black command prompt window.
  5. Press Enter.
  6. You should now see output which resembles the following:

    Interface Name: Wireless Adapter
    There are 13 networks currently visible

    SSID 1 : Your Network Name
    Network type : Infrastructure
    Authentication : WPA2-Personal
    Encryption : CCMP
    BSSID 1 :22:00:AB:F1:50:A1
    Signal : 89%
    Radio type : 802.11n
    Channel : 1
    Basic Rates (Mbps) : 1 2 5.5 11

    SSID 2 : Your Neighbour's Network Name
    Network type : Infrastructure
    Authentication : WPA2-Personal
    Encryption : CCMP
    BSSID 1 :23:10:CC:D1:53:A6
    Signal : 50%
    Radio type : 802.11n
    Channel : 1
    Basic Rates (Mbps) : 1 2 5.5 11

  7. As you can see, this output lists the Channel that each of these wireless networks are using. If a bunch of other networks are using the same channel as you, it is most likely congested. Try switching to the LEAST used channel of channels 1,6, or 11.

Checking for Wireless Congestion (Mac):

  1. Hold the "Option" key (ALT if you are using a Windows keyboard) and click on the Wi0Fi icon at the top of your screen.
  2. Select "Open Wireless Diagnostics".
  3. Click "Window" at the top of the page.
  4. Click on "Scan".
  5. Once the scan has completed it will provide a summary which lists the best channels to use based on the results. Change your wireless channels to one of these and test your connection again!

There are 11 channels, why should I only use 1,6, or 11?
Channels in the 2.4Ghz spectrum overlap and interfere with the two channels on either side of them.

Channel 6 for example, actually spans across channels 4,5,6,7, and 8 while Channel 3 spans across channels 1,2,3,4, and 5.

This means that if you were to select channel 3 because 1 and 6 are congested, you are now being interfered with by BOTH channel 1 AND channel 6. In short, if you attempt to avoid the congestion on 1,6, or 11 by choosing a different channel, you are just putting yourself into a position of even greater interference and congestion.

Once you've discovered your optimal channel, click here to learn how to change the wireless channel on many popular hardware models.

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