Wi-Fi is a worldly necessity these days. With so much relying on it, performance issues can hurt your home or business. The three factors that most affect your wireless signal are location and distance, interference, and the quantity of devices that are connected. Analyzing each of these factors will help you to improve your wireless service.
If there are concrete walls, several floors, or a lot of objects between you and the Wi-Fi access point or router, you can dramatically see the signal drop. The general rule is if you can hear a person speaking loudly where that access point is, then you should be fine. Distance
The further away the Wi-Fi unit, the more latency you get. The 2.4ghz band travels much further than the 5Ghz band. 2.4ghz travels about 150ft indoors and 300ft outdoors. 5ghz is about 1/3 that on older Wi-Fi Standards.
Centurylink.com has the following chart based on real-world data:
|Standard||Frequency||Theoretical Distance||Real World Distance|
|802.11a||5Ghz||390 ft||195 ft|
|802.11b||2.4Ghz||460 ft||230 ft|
|802.11g||2.4Ghz||125 ft||62 ft|
|802.11n||2.4Ghz||820 ft||410 ft|
|802.11n||5Ghz||460 ft||230 ft|
|802.11ac||5Ghz||up to 820 ft (amplified)||up to 410 ft (amplified)|
Source for information in table: https://www.centurylink.com/home/help/internet/wireless/which-frequency-should-you-use.html
The 2.4 GHz band is prone to radio interference due to the limited amount of “channels” available. 5GHz band is more prone to object interference (like walls and doors) due to its low range.
Typically, 2.4GHz band operates at channels 1, 6, and 11 (so that the channels don’t overlap). There are a lot of OTHER non-Wi-Fi devices that can operate at this same level and “clog up” one of those channels. Bluetooth devices, some microphones, radios, and microwaves operate close to the band, as well as fluorescent lights, wireless video cameras, and cordless phones.
Moving to the 5GHz band lowers the likelihood of interference. There are 23 non-overlapping channels, so devices are less likely to fight for a channel.
Having a ton of devices on your network greatly affects Wi-Fi’s speed and reliability. There are two main factors: bandwidth and concurrent devices.
With network bandwidth / speed, you’re only as fast as your weakest link. You could be paying for 200mb/s but the wire that connects your router could be an older technology like CAT 5 cable which can allow as little as 10mb/s. Depending on the protocol of the Wi-Fi you can be limited as well.
Here is a list of WiFi standards and maximum speeds:
There is a theoretical limit that a piece of hardware can handle in terms of clients connected to it (even if they aren’t hitting the bandwidth). From a network / logical standpoint, you can support up to 254 on typical basic network setups. The hardware of the access point, though, is much less. Real world examples have it around 30-40 devices at one time before clients will get booted off. Even if your network can handle 254 devices at a time, of them will be delayed and slow if more than 40 are attempting to connect at the same time.
Anthony holds dual degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from NYU.
He has over 30 years of experience in hardware design and software programming. Anthony specializes in computer and cloud networking and has collaborated with clients and third parties on creating custom software designs and is a web presence and accessibility compliance expert.