What Wi-Fi channel do you typically use? When setting up a wireless network in your home or workplace, you may not think much about the channel. After all, most wireless networks will work regardless of the channel, so many people assume that the channel doesn’t matter.

The Basics of Wi-Fi Channels

Wi-Fi channels are frequency bands. Wireless networks use a wireless spectrum of radio waves to transmit and receive data through the air. Each channel is a specific frequency band of this wireless spectrum. Channels consist of numbers and these numbers represent the center or midpoint frequency of the wireless channel.

There are different bands of radio waves, each of which is divided into a set of channels. Some of the most common Wi-Fi bands include 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The Wi-Fi standard requires that all channels use 5 Mhz spacing. The only exception is the 60 GHz band, in which case the channels use 2.16 GHz spacing.

Interference From Nearby Wireless Networks

The channel you use can absolutely affect the performance of your wireless network. When two or more nearby wireless networks use the same channel, interference may occur. If your neighbor’s wireless network, for instance, uses the same channel as the wireless network in your home, you can expect slower speeds. It will take longer to download and upload data because of this interference.

Limited Range

Interference from nearby wireless networks can manifest in different ways. In addition to slower speeds, it can shorten the range of your Wi-Fi. Interference promotes shorter Wi-Fi distances, which can prove problematic for large homes as well as office complexes.

With interference, you may have to bring your devices closer to your router to connect to your wireless network. Interference is often caused by nearby wireless networks using the same channel. By switching your wireless network to a different channel, you can extend its range and fix other related problems.

What About the Bandwidth?

Changing the bandwidth or simply “band” of your wireless network can make a world of difference in its performance as well. The 5 GHz band, for instance, is significantly faster than the 2.4 GHz band. If you’re currently using the 2.4 GHz band, you may want to switch it to the 5 GHz band. With that said, not all routers support the 5 GHz band. If you have an old router, it may be limited to the 2.4 GHz band.