If you’re using wifi to connect your devices to the internet, chances are you’ve experienced abysmally low speeds at one point or another. No, that’s not your service provider, it has to do with how you set up your router to broadcast the signal.
The Way Wifi works in the 2.4 GHz band is it does the transmission between 2.4 and 2.5 GHz with a total bandwidth of 100 MHz Now this 100Mhz is not all yours either, it is further divided into multiple channels, 11 in most countries.
These channels are 20 MHz wide and spaced at intervals of 5 MHz, meaning there is a lot of interference between the channels… The only channels that don’t seem to interfere happen to be 1, 6 and 11.
These are what you should look to direct your router towards. But how do you find which one is better for you at a given time /place? Easy. Here’s a list of free or cheap software for every platform that you can use to analyze the spectrum and choose the right channel.
It scans and displays the information of surrounding wifi, including SSID, connected users, quality of signal, available channels and their users. Although it has a paid version, it has nothing that serves this purpose. The free version will do you just fine.
Wifi info view by NirSoft
One of the best and most popular wifi analyzers out there and a free one at that too. It has a very clean interface and does a great job showing all the networks, their signal quality, and the channels. You can sort the list by signal quality, channels or the PHY type.
Used to be the go-to app for wifi analysis a few years ago when it was free. Now it costs a quite a bit depending on which version you want. However, in terms of sheer functionality, this remains the top gun. If you don’t mind willing to spend a few bucks, this could be worth it.
Linssid: This is a Linux equivalent of the Windows inSSIDer. It displays the networks, the channels they occupy, signal strength & quality and even the security encryption type.
Wicd network manager: It gives you the option to manage all your networks along with displaying the required details about others like SSIDs, channels, and signal strength/quality.
Terminal: If you don’t feel like installing a 3rd party application, you can just type in sudo ‘iwlist wlan0 scan | grep \ (Channel’ into the default terminal to access the list and details of all the networks around.
Wifi Analyzer: One of the many apps on the store to serve our purpose. But unlike the others, this one seemed smoother, more efficient and accurate. This is a free application, and it doesn’t require you to root your device. You can access it directly from the play store. The best thing about the app is that apart from displaying all the information that we might need, it also automatically specifies which channel is likely to be better for your use. All you have to do is, launch the app and point your router towards the specified channel.
Wifi explorer: It displays the SSID, the MAC address, signal strength, channels and even their max transfer rates. This is probably the best app to optimize your network in the Apple environment, but it costs about 3$ and requires you to jailbreak. It’s worth the price although jailbreaking could be a deal breaker for many.
MAC OS X
Wireless Diagnostics: OS X surprisingly beats all the other platforms in this regard with its inbuilt wifi analyzer tool. It’s extremely convenient to use, requiring only a few clicks to access. To open, select the options menu where you will find the ‘open wireless diagnostics.’ Once you click that you will have to choose the scan option from the dropdown menu of the window tab. It displays a list of networks and channels along with recommendations for which channel you should be using.
So the whole Idea here is to look at the networks around you, find the channel that is least populated and is less likely to have interferences. Once you identify the ideal channel for you all that needs to be done is to go to your routers settings page and change the channel to the required number. Voila!