How and why you should optimize your WIFI network

If you live in an urban sprawl like I do, then you’ll know the sheer density of Wi-fi signals bouncing around at any given time. But have you ever considered the negative implications of being in a Wi-fi dense area? If you’re running into wireless connectivity problems like I used to frequent, then it could very much be caused by wireless overlap and can be fixed with a few tweaks of your router / wireless access point (WAP) settings. To start troubleshooting this common network hiccup, you must first evaluate your network environment by asking a few questions:

  • Do I have more than one router in a single area? If so, how many SSID’s are broadcasted? some routers prefer to combine 2.4g and 5g into a single SSID while some older ones broadcast them separately. (usually with different passwords)
  • Out of the router(s) in my situation, are all of the WIFI networks necessary? If not then they should be disabled.
  • If more than one router is necessary in a small area, could the WIFI channel be changed on them individually to reflect not only the needs of the router, but also the network noise/environment in that area.

Many home gateways support changing the WIFI band for noisy network environments. If the demand of bandwidth is unexpectedly exceeding the capabilities of your wireless network, the most probable culprit is crowded channels.

How do you determine what channel to broadcast your wireless network onto? Never ever pick a random one, interference is caused by nearly anything that has electronics in it, and after all there is 11 for 2.4g and 45 for 5g. In short you need an RF scanner. A significant portion of modern routers have one built in, and can automatically determine the clearest channel. Some routers will determine this automatically upon first boot, or after a factory reset. However, sometimes a manual adjustment or additional RF scan will be needed down the road after adding more and more wireless devices to multiple networks.

What about DNS?

If you wind up in a situation where it takes a concerning amount of time to access a website, say google.com, then it is possible your Domain Name Server (DNS) is configured incorrectly. What do I mean by incorrectly configured DNS? That simply means that the server that is responsible for resolving the domain names of all the websites you visit is taking too long, timing out, or even failing to resolve names altogether. Per device trusted DNS settings, or router configured upstream trusted DNS servers such as cloudflare’s or OpenDNS’s servers could fix this. But why is this a problem? Sometimes the Internet service provider uses their own DNS servers, that drastically slow down due to excessive load and other common maintenance problems. Comcast “Xfinity” DNS servers are notorious for this.

Works cited

Moren, Dan. “Find the Best Wi-Fi Channel with Wireless Diagnostics.” Six Colors, 19 Mar. 2015, 11:02, sixcolors.com/post/2015/03/find-the-best-wi-fi-channel-with-wireless-diagnostics/.

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