Avoiding Wireless Dropouts

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BLS-KB14-610

Introduction

All wireless devices on a given network connect at a radio frequency agreed upon by the router. All routers will broadcast on one of 11 channels in North America or one of 13 channels in Europe. Most routers have the channel set to Auto Select a channel as default. Generally speaking, when set to Auto Select, routers will generally try channel 1, 6 or 11 rather than scan for a channel with little traffic on it as implied.

In crowded urban environments such as a row of town houses or an apartment high rise, it is quite common to have as many as 6 or even more available networks picked up by a wireless device. With all of these routers selecting channel 1, 6 or 11 more often than not, it is quite common for a network to have traffic interference.

This interference can be quite forgiving when surfing the Internet or transmitting e-mail. When dealing with a media streaming device which requires little or no interruption of packet flows without being noticeable to the ear in the case of music or eye in the case of video, a congested wifi channel can be a problem.

Scenario

If you are seeing frequent streaming issues, we recommend you disable Automatic channel selection in your router and select a lesser used channel such as channel 3 or channel 4 to improve radio frequency reliability.

The steps below will change from router make to router make but all major router manufacturers will have the option to change from Automatic selection of scanning channels to manually select a channel.

Configuration

Using your router installation software (In the case of an Apple Time Capsule or Ubiquity UniFi) or visiting the router’s configuration site (usually 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 in the case of a Cisco, Netgear or D-Link router) login and administer your router. Review your router documentation or user manual for detailed router specific settings.

On the router configuration menu, locate the Wireless Setup page. Review the Channel settings of your 2.4GHz network and change the settings from Automatic/Autoscan to channel 3. We recommend channel 3 as it is between two of the more popular channels used creating minimal interference with most default channels.

Confirm/save your router settings. You may have to reboot or restart your router for changes to take effect.

Notes

  • Wireless devices on your network may also require a restart but should not have to adjust their wireless configuration settings.
  • If performance does not improve you may also try channel 8
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