Even though you may not think about it, broadband routers communicate over specific WiFi channels. Each channel has a designated number that represents a specific frequency. WiFi devices, auto set and adjust their wireless channel numbers as part of their protocol while operating systems and utility software keep track of the channel settings being used at any given time. Typically, you won’t need to adjust these channels. However, there are times when it is a good idea.
Reasons to Change Wi-Fi Channels
One of the best reasons to change your WiFi numbers deals with neighboring networks. By default, most home networks run on channel 6 in the 2.4 GHz band. If you have neighbors that run over the same channel, that can generate radio interference and cause significant slowdowns. Reconfiguring the network to use different channels will minimalize these slowdowns.
How to Change Wi-Fi Channels
This can be a simple procedure once you know what to do. Start by logging on to the router’s configuration screens and look for the setting called Wireless Channel or just Channel. Typically, you will see a dropdown menu that will let you choose the channel you want to change to. Keep in mind, though, that if you have some devices that fail to connect after you change the channel, you need to go to into the software configuration utility for each device.
Choosing the Best Wi-Fi Channel
Most of the time, your Wi-Fi connection will perform the same on every channel. While sometimes the best option is is to leave the network defaults alone, radio interference can certainly cause problems. The truth is, there is no single channel that is better than others. That said, you want to make sure that you spread out enough from any neighboring channels. If your neighbor is running on 6, you may wish to run on 1 or go the other way, depending on how many channels are available to you. If you are still encountering interference, you may want to coordinate with your neighbors so you can both avoid mutual interference.
If you are more technically inclined, there is an Android app you can use called WiFi Analyzer. Of course, there are others. What it does is run a test on wireless signals in the area to help you identify the safest channel to use. As you might guess, there are others out there as well, depending on the platform you normally use. Because of the effects of signal interference, what is the best channel now may not always stay the same. We suggest periodically monitoring your environment to see if there are condition changes.