Wireless Router Troubleshooting for Students in Residence Halls

Important Info about Wireless Routers from our Network Services Team:

Radio frequency interference occurs in a wireless network if two routers near each other are broadcasting on the same channel or on channels with overlapping wavelengths, resulting in degraded wireless network performance. In an ideal situation, wireless networks would be organized so that routers using channels with overlapping wavelengths are separated from each other enough that there is no interference. Most wireless routers registered on campus use the 2.4 GHz wireless band. There are eleven channels in this band, but only three non-overlapping channels (1, 6 and 11).


Many home routers by default will automatically select the channel to be used, and two routers that select overlapping channels will mutually interfere with network performance. One way to avoid this is to manually assign channels 1, 6 and 11 so that no two adjacent routers are using the same channel, as shown in the diagram below.


Free WiFi Scanner software such as InSSIDer can detect ch

annel interference and help in selecting a channel to use.


If there are too many routers in a small area, even non-adjacent routers can interfere in this scheme if their coverage areas overlap. In the residence halls, students may need to reduce the density of coverage by sharing a router among multiple rooms or suites.

Another strategy to reduce interference is to use the 5 GHz band of a dual band router. The 5 GHz band has twenty three channels, twelve of which are non-overlapping. Students with dual band routers can avoid 2.4 GHz interference by using only the 5 GHz band, and manually assigning one of the non-overlapping channels. A potential problem with this strategy is that many portable devices, including cell phones, may not be able to use this band.

Finally, do not use the wide channel option in your router configuration. While this may increase speed, it will also increase overlap with adjacent channels, and therefore also increase interference.


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