WiFi and CB Radio


Still having a poor network experience accessing the WiFi network or browsing the internet, despite seeing full bars in the menu bar indicating a strong WiFi signal?

It's not just the strength of a signal, but the clarity that counts. Compare it to a noisy restaurant. Plenty of volume, but you have a hard time understanding the person across the table. While a whisper would be sufficient in a quiet bistro.

Remember the old days with CB radios? Only a few channels were available, but lots of people looking for a clear channel. If there was not enough space, people would pick a channel and start a conversation on top of another one. In crowded areas many people ended up only being able to connect less than a block away, while the technology was capable of covering thousands of miles, if the conditions were right.

In densely populated areas we have the same problem with our wireless routers. Very few channels are available for all of the WiFi enabled devices. Rather than leaving the settings of your router set to “automatic” it can make a huge difference to 'scope' WiFi signals and pick a channel that has the least amount of noise. There are two frequency ranges available, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Most older routers and all of the modems provided by Comcast and AT&T only have the 2.4 GHz band available. If you live in or near a condo building you may have a challenge in having a good connection to your wireless router.

Options:

First, use a wired connection if possible. Why use the WiFi if the router is located in the same room?  Improve the connection and reserve WiFi recourses for those devices that have have no other option. Next, enable the 5GHz WiFi on your wireless router. All Apple Airport stations have this option available.

Next, manually select an empty channel. It best to scope the network with an application like “WiFi Explorer” this will give you a graphical representation of the WiFi signals available and make it easy to pick your spot. Don’t forget to measure the signal from various locations in the space. What seems to be clear in one area can be useless in another.

Changing the wireless options in a Apple Airport or Time Capsule:
Open Airport Utility

  1. Double click on the Airport you want to change
  2. Edit
  3. Wireless
  4. Wireless Options
  5. Check the 5GHz box
  6. Change to a manual channel is needed
  7. Update

* For other brands, consult the manual.

Its a two-way connection!

Your WiFi station might beam out a very strong signal that can be heard all over the house. But, remember your portable device, like an iPhone has a weak transmitter with a small antenna, making it very hard to be heard by the base station.

Posted on February 19, 2014 and filed under Network.