Blogs and Noteworthy News about Canadian Telecommunications

 

WiFi Crunch - The 2.4Ghz Battle

or, how slow Internet speeds may not be the ISP's fault after all.

It all starts with the dreaded buffering when streaming video online, or your file download seems to take forever.

Next, you do a speedtest and realize you are getting nowhere close to what you are subscribed to.

Then you call your provider's tech support and say "Whats going on?" Your provider tells you that everything checks out fine, the network is not congested, all systems are green. So now what? Well for starters, are you doing your speedtests over your WiFi network, i.e. your wireless router? If the answer is yes, hardwire your labtop directly to your router, to one of those 4 ports on the back. After making sure your computer is using the LAN connection to access the Internet, do another speedtest. Are you getting a different, much better, result?
How can that be? Let's dig a little bit into that. Most wireless routers use the 2.4Ghz radio frequency, together with cordless phones, baby monitors, certain bluetooth devices and even microwave ovens. The problem used to occur mostly in densly pouplated, urban areas. But lately we see a trend where this is becomming a thing now even in Suburbia, as the amount of wireless devices in use skyrockets. Take a note of how many routers you 'see', when viewing available wireless networks on your wireless device. Now imagine all the other above mentioned devices also operating in your neighbourhood. A problem arises when too many devices attempt to communicate over the same frequency. A frequency is a finite resource, it can handle only so much trafic in a given area before it gets congested, just like a highway having to handle too many vehicles.

Congested WiFi Infographic

So what can we do about it? Here are some tips that may help.

  • Dual-Band Routers, offering both a 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Option. Use the 5Ghz band on all your devices that support it.
  • Hardwire. Plug in directly to your router whenever feasable. This will provide you the best connection in your house regardless.
  • If you have 2.4Ghz cordless phones in your house, maybe upgrading to the newer 6Ghz phones on the market now may take some pressure of your airwaves.

"But..But..won't the 5Ghz frequency also get congested in time?", you ask. The answer is 'Yes, possibly', but by now we are spreading the traffic over two frequencies instead of one and are sharing the load. And we hope that router manufacturers will be able to add more frequency options to their products in the future.

Can Com T. Roeth

 

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