In our modern and ultra-connected age, with a Wi-Fi signal coming from every coffee shop, pub, and phone booth, it’s very easy for networks to overlap and interfere with each other. This is made worse when they’re operating on the same channels. When a router is set up, it’ll pick a channel for whatever frequency it’s on (802.11n on 2.4GHz, or 802.11ac and 802.11n for 5GHz), with each frequency having its own bank of channels.
Sometimes the router may pick a channel on set-up that isn’t particularly “busy”, ie: there aren’t many other neighboring networks also on that channel competing for bandwidth, but over time, as more networks get set up around you, it’s possible for the channel you’re on to get quite crowded and for your connection speeds to drop as a result.
You can manually pick another channel using the method outlined below, allowing you to opt for a channel that not many other local networks are using and therefore potentially improving your speeds.
While you can just hop from one channel to the next and see which has the better connection for you, it’s a bit more efficient to use an app tool to discover which are less crowded.
“”WiFi Analyzer” for Android and Windows 10 is a good choice, and it’s free. Start by installing this app on your phone or tablet, then connect that device to your Wi-Fi network and then open the app. Note that if you have both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks you’ll have to connect to them one at a time to check each of them.
Running the app should show you a table of nearby networks, the channels they are using, and the strength of the signal – including your own. You can use this visual information to get an idea of which channel might be worth going for.
How To Change WiFi Channel
- Once you know which channel you’re going for, changing it is pretty easy. You’ll need to have a device connected to the network.
- On that device, open your web browser.
- In the address bar, you need to type the IP Address for your router. This will either on a sticker somewhere on the router itself, or in the documentation or packaging it came with. Often by default, the address will be 192.168.0.1.
- If the above doesn’t help, connect to the network on a Windows PC. Open Command Prompt (type “cmd.exe” – no quote marks – into the Windows search bar in the Start menu) and type “ipconfig” – again, no quote marks. From what pops up, there should be some text which reads “Default Gateway” – this is the router IP address you need to enter into the browser in order to access the router interface.
- On the router interface page, you’ll be prompted for a username and password. Again, this should be included in the router documentation or may be known by whoever runs or set up your network.
- Go to the Wi-Fi Settings on your router. The interface will be different from one brand of router to the next, so we cannot say exactly what menu you’re looking for, but by and large, they all have a Wi-Fi Settings section (note it may be inside an “Advanced Settings” and/or “Manual Config/Manual Setup” sub-category).
- You should find a section labeled “Channel” with a drop-down menu. Selecting from this menu allows you to choose the channel. Again, if the router has both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks you will have to do this for each.
- There should be a button somewhere to “Save” and/or “Apply” the changes you’ve made. This process may restart the router and you may be given a final prompt to complete the process first.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.