Today, connectivity to computer networks and the Internet it is something essential, both for work and study or simply for fun. and that connectivity every day more often it is mobile, especially via WiFi through wireless access points that continually become more powerful, intelligent and faster. However, the growing employment of older wireless networks, forces us to understand its advantages and disadvantages. And therefore, to know if it is better to select a «Automatic or manual WiFi channel» on the networks we use.
Since selecting a «Automatic or manual WiFi channel» it has its science or reason for being. Because it mitigates the risk of suffering interference in wireless connections. Very common problem that we will address here, and that usually has as a simple solution the change Wi-Fi channel.
And as usual, before addressing this publication on the field of WiFi connectivity, specifically about selecting a «Automatic or manual WiFi channel», we will leave for those interested in exploring some of our previous related posts with this area, the following links to them. So that they can do it easily, if they wish to increase or reinforce their knowledge on this point, at the end of reading this publication:
"WiFi has become as essential at home as toilet paper, water or electricity. But like all types of wireless connection, it can cause range problems or interference, either due to distance or because there are many walls between the router and our device. There are many solutions to these problems, although some are more complex than others." How to amplify the WiFi signal? Effective solutions
Table of Contents
- 1 Automatic or manual WiFi channel: Select the best channel
- 1.1 What is a wireless network or WiFi?
- 1.2 What are WiFi Frequencies and WiFi Channels?
- 1.3 Is it preferable to select an automatic or manual WiFi Channel?
- 1.4 More important tips about WiFi connectivity
- 2 Your Order
Automatic or manual WiFi channel: Select the best channel
In order to understand in depth the differences, advantages or disadvantages of selecting a «Automatic or manual WiFi channel» We will first clarify certain technical concepts. This for the benefit above all, of those who may not be totally clear about them.
What is a wireless network or WiFi?
In relatively simple words, one can consider a wireless networkmatrix as a communication systemn (network) data. Network that providesmake a connectionn without cables between those computers located within the same area coverage (defined area). Therefore, in a wireless networkmbrica transmit and receive data throughs of onelectromagnetic days through the air as a means of transmissionn.
While, as a curious fact, the term Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi, as stated on some reputable websites, does not really refer to anything specific or real. It is often believed that it is the abbreviation of Wireless Fidelity, but it is not true.
Since, the term had as origin or point of invention a marketing company (advertising). This is because it was hired by the wireless industry of that time. Which sought to devise and establish a friendly name to refer to said new technology in the process of massification.
What are WiFi Frequencies and WiFi Channels?
Two more important terms, which we must be clear about in order to fully understand our study question today in this publication, are the WiFi frequencies and channels.
According to Wi-Fi Alliance, estándard IEEE 802.11 specifies that the Wi-Fi technology current can be managed in three frequency ranges available on devices built as access and connection points. It is worth noting that the Wi-Fi Alliance is the global network of companies that drives global Wi-Fi adoption and evolution). And the estándard IEEE 802.11 It is the one that regulates the technology related to wireless local networks.
In addition, these currently established frequencies are: 2.4GHz, 3.6GHz and 5GHz. However, today, most current devices operate, by default below, that is, in the frequency band close to 2.4 GHz. Or above, in the frequency band close to 5 GHz.
And keep in mind that, in Wi-Fi technology the frequency represents the transmission/reception speed of the data between devices on the wireless network. And each frequency brings certain windows and drawbacks associated with its mode of operation. For example:
Advantages and disadvantages
- 2.4 GHZ frequency offers up to 14 available channels, it is more susceptibility to interference and has a higher penetrating ability against obstacles. But it offers less connection speed and a greater geographic coverage range. In addition, it offers support for the following standards: IEEE 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n (B, G and N).
- 5 GHZ frequency offers up to 25 available channels, it is less susceptible to interference and has less penetrating ability against obstacles. But it offers more connection speed and a smaller geographical coverage range. In addition, it offers support for the following standards: IEEE 802.11a, 802.11n, 802.11ac (A, N, AC).
According to the already mentioned standard, for example, currently for the range of 2.4GHz frequencies there 14 channels available, separated by 5 MHz. However, certain countries and geographic regions of the world may apply their own telecommunications laws and regulations about. In order to carry out, restrictions on number of channels available in equipment marketed in its territory.
And in this availability of channels, it must be taken into account that each one needs +/- 20MHz bandwidth to operate. which produces an effect known as overlapping of contiguous channels. This is usually best understood with the following explanation:
Channel 1 overlaps with channels 2, 3, 4 and 5. Consequently, devices broadcasting in that frequency range may interfere with each other, and devices connected to a device on those channels may interfere with each other. It also happens with channel 6 and channels 7, 8, 9 and 10. Instead, with the wifi channels from the fringe of 5GHz frequencies, this type of overlap does not usually happen, that is, it occurs less frequently.
Is it preferable to select an automatic or manual WiFi Channel?
So far, some basic technical points about the Wi-Fi technology, As the Frequencies and Channels used, the advantages and disadvantages between the most used frequencies (2.4 GHz and 5.4 GHz) and the problem called overlapping of contiguous channels.
So now, we will briefly and clearly explain what is best, in terms of selecting a «Automatic or manual WiFi channel». Since, as can be understood for each case (time and place) one way or another may be ideal.
Starting from the fact that, after enable card or Wi-Fi connectivity function from a desktop or laptop computer, or from a mobile phone, it shows the Available Wi-Fi networks (access points). Indicating some of these data, among which you can find the following:
- Network name (SSID),
- Authentication Type (Security Encryption),
- Signal Strength,
- Frequency and channels available,
- transmission/reception speeds,
- Network Information (Mac Address, IP Address, Gateway, Subnet Mask and DNS).
Automatic mode to Networks, Channels and Frequencies
All devices (computers and mobiles) tend to come by default, configured to connect to Free and open Wi-Fi networks, that is, public and without passwords, if they are in automatic mode, preferring those with the best level of intensity and/or speed, and making use of any WiFi Channel offered available.
In this mode, basically no user interaction and everything will depend on the programming logic included in the device to be connected. In this way, select the frequency and the channel according to what the WiFi access point.
Manual mode to Networks, Frequencies and Channels
Whereas, if you decide manually connect to a Wi-Fi network, favoring some type of frequency and channel, the following recommendations can be very useful:
- Physically locate available Wi-Fi connectivity access points: To prefer to connect to the nearest. For this, the signal intensity data or some native or third-party application that provides more detailed information on this point can be used.
- Choose among the available Wi-Fi connectivity access points the most secure: To prefer to connect to the most reliable. For this, the data of the Authentication Type (Security Encryption) used or some native or third-party application that provides more detailed information on this point can be used.
- Connect to the ideal available frequency band: To enjoy the advantages of the available frequencies and mitigate the problems that each presents. For this, it must be remembered that:
- If we connect to a 2.4 GHZ Wi-Fi access point we will get fewer channels available to choose from, which tend to have more susceptibility to interference and lower connection speed. But we will get a greater penetration capacity against obstacles and a greater range of geographical coverage.
- If we connect to a 5 GHZ Wi-Fi access point we will get more channels available to choose from, which tend to have less susceptibility to interference and a higher connection speed. But we will get a lower penetration capacity against obstacles and a smaller geographic coverage range.
- Connect to the ideal available channel: To choose the least used, that is, the one with the fewest number of devices connected by said channel. And choose the one with the least overlap, product of other Wi-Fi devices that are broadcasting on the same channel.
- Make use of third-party applications: To achieve the above, an analysis of the Wi-Fi network to which we are connected, and other surrounding ones must be done through certain applications. And among some good ones available, free or open source, are mobile applications called Wi-Fi Analyzer (open-source), WiFi Analyzer (Free from farproc), Signal Strength, Who is on my Wi-Fi?, Fing – Network Scanner, Network Analyzer and WiFi Guard, among many others. Some of which are for Android, iOS and both.
More important tips about WiFi connectivity
- Place Wi-Fi devices (Access Point) at a suitable height and distance: The ideal is a point that is neither too high nor too low, neither too far nor closed, since it could cause unnecessary signal power losses due to distance or obstacles. The ideal will always be midpoints of height and distance from the place where it must work, and the most free of nearby physical obstacles and electronic devices that emit electromagnetic radiation.
- Position the antennas of the Wi-Fi device (Access Point) in different directions: It is advisable to place the antennas perpendicularly, one(s) horizontal and one(s) vertical. That is, they form 90 degree angles between them. This will achieve a better geographical coverage and the devices will better capture the signal.
- Test connection to channels using 20 MHz and 40 MHz: Connections at 40 Mhz may offer a better signal, but at a higher probability of collisions with other surrounding wireless networks. 40 Mhz connections offer less packet loss.
- Other helpful tips: Keep the firmware of the Wi-Fi device updated and use Wi-Fi signal repeaters, if deemed necessary. And finally, get/purchase a newer Wi-Fi device with better features and functions.
Finally, for more technical information related with doubts and solutions to problems of wireless connectivity, you can explore the following link.
In summary, knowing how to correctly select a «Automatic or manual WiFi channel» at the appropriate time or place can give us the advantage of presenting fewer connectivity issues. And consequently, being able to enjoy a internet connectionyou much more stable and fast. Also, it could be useful in certain cases, like being able to help others to better configure their wireless networks and connectionsboth at home and at work.
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