Wi-Fi Channels: Which One Is the Best for Your Network?

Just like TV, Wi-Fi networks operate over channels designated with a number that represents a specific radio frequency. Wi-Fi devices set those channels according to their communication protocol. While these channels are taken care of by the operating system most of the time, users may have to change them under certain circumstances. If you’re looking to do that for your home network, you must be confused as there are many channels to choose from. We’re here to help, and you’ll know exactly what to do after reading this article.

How many Wi-Fi channels are there?

2.4 GHz channels

Wi-Fi devices operate over 14channels on the 2.4Ghz frequency:

  • Channel 1: 2,412 Mhz
  • Channel 2: 2,417 Mhz
  • Channel 3: 2,422 Mhz
  • Channel 4: 2,427 Mhz
  • Channel 5: 2,432 Mhz
  • Channel 6: 2,437 Mhz
  • Channel 7: 2,442 Mhz
  • Channel 8: 2,447 Mhz
  • Channel 9: 2,452 Mhz
  • Channel 10: 2,457 Mhz
  • Channel 11: 2,462 Mhz
  • Channel 12: 2,467 Mhz
  • Channel 13: 2,472 Mhz
  • Channel 14: 2,477 Mhz

These channels may differ from one country to the other. For the US, Wi-Fi devices operate over the first 11 channels, while they operate over the first 13 channels in Europe. Channel 14 is a rare case as it’s only available in old 802.11b equipment in Japan.

Most home networks use 2.4Ghz channels, which can cause interference between neighboring devices as these channels have a wide 300dt range and require a signaling band of 22Mhz each. For this frequency, Interference can happen with Wi-Fi devices and non Wi-Fi devices as well.

5 Ghz channels

Unlike 2.4Ghz channels, 5Ghz ones have a lower range of 90 ft or less, a very little non-Wi-Fi interference and specific numbers for a particular field, just like the process of AM/FM transmission. All of that reduces network conflictions and interference which results in a better signal.

Why would you change your channel numbers?

A router uses the same channel to communicate with other devices in the same network. As most routers in the US operate over the default channel 6 of the 2.4Ghz band, they’re most likely to witness a drop in speed as they interfere with neighboring routers running on the same channel. That slow speed is due to the fact that only a channel can only be used to transmit data by one device at a time. Changing the channel numbers may be an excellent solution to avoid such slowdowns. For that, you need to reconfigure the channel numbers of your Access point and devices after looking for the least used channel in the neighboring area.

How To find the best channel for your network?

Changing the channel numbers isn’t the hardest part of the process. What’s crucial is finding the least used channel in the neighboring area to ensure minimal interference.You can do this through many ways, but I usually use a software as that’s the easiest one.What we’re looking for here is a tool capable of analyzing surrounding networks. You can find many of those of the internet, but my personal favorites are Wi-Fi Analyzer for Windows, NetSpot for Mac users and Wi-Fi Analyzer for smartphone users.

Wi-Fi Analyzer for Windows

Wi-Fi channels

What’s great about Wi-Fi Analyzer is how straightforward it is to use it. Just download the app from the Windows Store, run it,and it’ll give you a graph showing neighboring networks and their channels. Note down the least used channel as that’s the one that’ll ensure minimal interference.

Android Wi-Fi Analyzer Wi-Fi channels

Wi-Fi Analyzer is yet another great tool to check available channels. This android app is free, intuitive and extremely easy to use. Just open the app, and you’ll get something like this:

In this example, the 6th channel is used by 2 networks,and the 3rd, 5th, and 11th channels are used by one network each while the other channels aren’t used, and that’s where we jump in.

The app also detects the network’s signal strength in your location so you can use it to find the best spot to download your movies through a high-speed network.

NetSpot for Mac

Do not be fooled by the Prices on NetSpot’s website, as this service is available for free for those who simply want to check the channels used on surrounding networks. Just like the above apps, NetSpot doesn’t require any techy knowledge and can be used by anyone.

How to change channel numbers?

The steps differ according to your router and Internet Provider. Once you detect the ideal channel to use, visit the management interface/configuration page of your ISP and change the channel of your Wi-Fi network. If that page is too complicated, you can contact the assistance of Internet Service Provider to get the details on how to do the process. After typing in your new numbers and saving, restart the router for the changes to take effect.If the chosen channel isn’t working correctly or has a weak signal, repeat the process until you find your ideal network speed.

As mentioned above, the trick isn’t in changing the numbers; it’s in choosing the right ones. Use one of the apps I recommended,and you’re bound to get that network speed you deserve. Besides changing the channel, there are other tricks to get a better Wi-Fi signal which you can find here.

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