Wi-Fi Congestion and Channel Selection

Marco Cardazzi

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On July 29th In Networking
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As our world moves rapidly towards the increased usage of Wi-Fi for smart devices, IPTV interfaces and other consumer products, a problem can arise with congestion of signals.

Most Wi-Fi access points are standardized to provide eleven different channels within the allowed frequencies, 2.4 and 5 GHz. In most cases manufacturers will default program their Wi-Fi access points to one of three channels, 1, 6, or 11. This is done because those are the only channels in the Wi-Fi spectrum that do not slightly overlap each other.

Let’s look at how a typical smart device reaches and connects to a Wi-Fi access point or WAP.  Once the device is turned on and the Wi-Fi is activated, the device will scan all eleven channels and then display the names (or SSIDs) of the available access points. Note that this display doesn’t show the specific channel for each access point found. When the user selects BillsWiFi as the access point they want to use, the smart device will automatically go to the channel where the BillsWiFi is operating and make the connection. The user may be prompted to input the encryption code before being allowed onto the selected WAP. So the Wi-Fi channel is set in the WAP and usually not in the remote device, as those devices will scan all channels for available WAPs.

When planning to install a Wi-Fi IP camera that will typically need a robust connection to reliably transmit video images, technicians should test the exact proposed mounting location of the camera using their smartphone and testing app. This test may well show that the client’s WAP is currently programmed to one of the default Wi-Fi channels, along with a bunch of other WAPs in the neighborhood. For best functionality, technicians should change the WAP channel from the default to another relatively unused channel such as 3, 4, 7, 9, etc.

Here is where the channel selection is made in a D-Link 8E-DHPW311AV AC/Ethernet/Wi-Fi access point:

In the above example the D-Link WAP’s channel has been changed from the factory default #1 to #3.

Changing the customer’s Wi-Fi channel should not have an effect on their other devices, in fact in most cases they will see improved connectivity and bandwidth for their smart devices as they are now on a relatively unused channel. And the IP Wi-Fi camera(s) will connect and function much better than if the channel wasn’t changed.

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