What is RF Design and Why Is It Important for my Wi-Fi Network?

Let’s face it – Our Wi-Fi expectations these days are pretty high. We want a strong, fast, reliable connection – And we want it all of the time. When we have good Wi-Fi, we barely notice it. But when it’s bad, it’s frustratingly apparent.

Unfortunately, what people don’t tend to realise is that a significant part of your wireless network is the RF environment. If you want your Wi-Fi network to perform to those high expectations, then you need to ensure you get this RF environment right.

Designing Your RF  Environment

It starts with the design. To create an effective RF design, you need to consider the environment that this Wi-Fi network is going to be functioning in. Are their neighbouring networks? What potential factors could cause interference?

You also need to consider how you need your Wi-Fi network to work. How many users are there? Will there be areas of higher density than others? These sorts of things define the requirements of the RF design. If you want good wireless network performance to meet those high expectations we mentioned above, then your RF environment needs to be correctly designed and managed.

The best way to identify what design would work well for your environment is to carry out a Wi-Fi survey. If you’re not confident in carrying this our yourself, then consider calling in the experts! We make it our business to provide comprehensive Wi-Fi surveys for any business or home environment. Our expert engineers can then design a Wi-Fi network tailored precisely to your needs, and then install it for you.

Analysing Your Wi-Fi Network

If your Wi-Fi network is already up and running, but you suspect there may be issues somewhere then network monitoring tools can be a useful way of providing visibility of any problems.

If you’re in the Wi-Fi field, then this will be a fairly straightforward exercise for you if you know the tools and how to use them. More often than not though, Wi-Fi network problems need a more in-depth analysis to really get to the bottom of what’s causing issues.

This again is where it might be best to call in the experts. Our Wi-Fi engineers have the specialist tools and knowledge to look at your Wi-Fi network, analyse traffic flow and examine exactly how data is passing through.

Are you experiencing poor wireless network performance?

It’s important to remember that you have very little to no control over what type of devices enter your network. Your Wi-Fi network may be open to guests or maybe even the general public depending on your business. Even non-Wi-Fi devices can have a significant impact on your wireless network.

Are you experiencing poor performance on your Wi-Fi network? To identify the problem you need to analyse 3 main components of your wireless network.

  • The configuration
  • The RF environment
  • The devices / users in your network

Luckily for you you’ve landed in the right place! Here at Geekabit, our engineers are Wi-Fi experts and can carry out Wi-Fi surveys, Wi-Fi Design and Wi-Fi Installation all from our bases in Hampshire, London and Cardiff. For more information get in touch with us today.

 

How Does Capacity and Coverage affect Wi-Fi Interference?

This week’s blog is the last in our series on Wi-Fi interference and what you can do about it. So far we’ve covered physical causes of Wi-Fi interference, how electrical devices can affect Wi-Fi through frequency interference and today we’re talking about capacity and coverage.

How does capacity affect Wi-Fi interference?

Capacity problems are most commonplace in corporate environments like offices. A potential issue that these environments might face is having too many users per broadcast device. This causes a capacity overload and that’s when you start to run into Wi-Fi problems.

Each Wi-Fi broadcast device, e.g. a router or access point, has a finite amount of bandwidth. This bandwidth is divided by the number of wireless devices connecting to it. So if only 10 devices are connected, then the bandwidth for that router will be divided by 10. It’s almost irrelevant how fast the internet connection is – If 50 people try to connect then the bandwidth is going to split 50 ways.

Ways to avoid issues with capacity and bandwidth, is to make sure that you don’t have just one router or access point serving an area of high density. If you have a lot of users or users with multiple devices in a certain area, then make sure you have the necessary number of broadcast devices. You might find our blog on ‘How Many Access Points do I need?’ helpful for this.

How does coverage affect Wi-Fi interference?

It’s not just about the capacity in an area, you also need to consider the distance that people are needing to connect across. Getting Wi-Fi coverage right is just as important as capacity.

We all know that that closer we are to a broadcasting device, the stronger and more reliable the signal is going to be. If you know that there will be users in a particular area of your office or business that will need to connect, then make sure that there is a device close-by enough to transmit a strong signal.

Coverage isn’t all about distance, it’s also about whether your devices are installed effectively. For example, it’s pointless installing an access point in close range to users if it’s pointing in the wrong direction, or hidden behind something. Wireless broadcast devices like routers or access points emit their signal in certain directions. Obviously you can’t see what way the radio signals are going so make sure that devices are installed properly. Access points that are hidden behind shelves, or wedged in ceiling tiles are not going to work the way they were intended to. Always check the instructions and manufacturers guide when installing any hardware so that they work effectively and reach the maximum coverage possible. If you’re not sure, then ask the experts!

What can we conclude on the types of Wi-Fi interference and their resolutions?

Wi-Fi has come a long way since it first arrived in our lives, and while the gap between wireless internet and wired is certainly closing, there’s always going to be some inferiority for Wi-Fi when comparing the two.

Some of the resolutions we’ve covered in this series of blogs on Wi-Fi Interference are:

  • Check for physical obstruction risks such as metal and concrete, and place your broadcast devices strateigically to mitigate risks.
  • Check your kit and upgrade where necessary. Devices that can use the 802.11ac frequency with dual band functionality are really useful for scenarious where you need to swap from 2.5Ghz to 5Ghz.
  • Always check for firmware upgrades. A bit like how you update the apps on your smartphones, manufacturers are constantly trying to better their performance by enhancing the software that runs them so do keep a watch for updates which are often free.

It’s so important to take careful consideration when designing your Wi-Fi network. If you don’t feel confident assessing your environment for the potential issues in this series of Wi-Fi interference blogs, then consider calling in the experts. Our Wi-Fi engineers can carry out a Wi-Fi survey followed by planning and design and finished with expert installation for effective and reliable Wi-Fi.

What Causes Wi-Fi Interference?

Who put up their Christmas decorations at the weekend? It’s a little bit on the early side, but we think it can be forgiven this year! You might be wondering, what have Christmas decorations got to do with the causes of Wi-Fi interference? Read on and all will be illuminated (hint hint).

In last week’s blog we talked about how to diagnose Wi-Fi interference – What signs to look for that point to this being the cause of your Wi-Fi issues. As promised, this week we’re looking at the possible causes of Wi-Fi interference, and what you can do about them.

What causes Wi-Fi Interference?

2 of the main problems associated with Wi-Fi interference are Physical Barriers and Frequency Interference. Capacity can also cause Wi-Fi interference, but we’ll get to that next week.

Physical Barriers that can Cause Wi-Fi Interference

Does your home or office have that one particular spot where no matter how hard you try or where you place your device, you just can’t seem to get reliable Wi-Fi?

In this scenario the reason for Wi-Fi interference is probably the material that the building is made from. Certain materials can cause more of a barrier than others when it comes to Wi-Fi reaching your device.

Check out the chart below to see what materials act as the biggest barriers, and thus cause the most Wi-Fi interference.


Image 1. Chart to show the interference levels of certain building materials.

How can I combat a physical barrier causing Wi-Fi interference?

  • The first thing to try is moving your router or access point. Try a location that means the Wi-Fi signal doesn’t have to go through the barrier.
  • An alternative would be to try broadcasting your signal on a different frequency. If your device has this option available, then try changing it to use 5GHz. (This may only be an option on higher end devices).
  • Remember that humans make excellent barriers! If you’re experiencing Wi-Fi interference problems on a mobile device, consider holding it in a different way.

 

Wi-Fi Interference through Frequency

Imagine a narrow road with a car and lorry coming towards each other from opposite directions. They can’t both fit through at the same time – One of them is going to get through and one of them will have to stop. Frequency interference is a bit like this – If another signal crosses the path of your signal on a similar bandwidth and overpowers it, your signal will be interfered with.

What devices cause Wi-Fi interference with their frequency? The list is rather long unfortunately, and always being added to. Here is a list of devices that commonly cause bandwidth interference.

Christmas Tree Lights – Here’s why we were asking if you’d put your Christmas decorations up at the weekend! Christmas lights are commonly written about at this time of year because they known to be a common cause of Wi-Fi interference due to oscillating on the same frequency. Avoid placing your Christmas tree anywhere near internet equipment.

Other Wireless Devices – Any device that transmits or receives a wireless signal can also cause interference to another signal. There are many things in a home that could potentially cause Wi-Fi problems, such as wireless speakers, baby monitors and garage door openers.

Microwaves – Trying to scroll Instagram while your lunch is whirring around the microwave? If you’re struggling to do so then it might be because most microwaves operate on the 2.4GHz spectrum. This is the same as a lot of wireless devices (especially so on older, less expensive models). So that Instagram scroll might be a bit on the slow side.

Fridges – There are two things with fridges that can cause Wi-Fi interference. The first is the motors on the inside of a fridge, and the other is the fact that they are packed with ice which can act as a physical barrier. Keeping your router away from the fridge, and probably the kitchen in general, is a good idea.

Cordless Wi-Fi Phones – Remember when you couldn’t be online at the same time as someone talking on the phone? You might think those days are over but they’re not as distant as you may think. Cordless phones commonly operate on the 2.4GHz spectrum, so you may well experience Wi-Fi interference while you are talking on the phone or even just when the phone is ringing.

External Monitors & Displays – Commonly on the 2.4 GHz band (channels 11 to 14), certain displays can emit harmonic interference.
Satellite Dishes – Satellite dishes can leak signal interference into the local vicinity if they have been wired up wrong or if they are old and the wiring is deteriorating.

Hearing Aids – You may experience Wi-Fi interference if someone with a hearing aid in in close proximity to a wireless broadcasting device like a router.

Neighbours – You can struggle with Wi-Fi signal and performance if your network is in close proximity to another one, especially if it is a powerful Wi-Fi network like the ones you tend to see in corporate environments. If you need help detecting this issue, you can install a WLAN controller with a rogue detection function.

Fish Tanks – These are known to be an issue to internet connectivity in general. They commonly cause interference to Wi-Fi signal as they oscillate on the same frequency. Always place fish tanks away from internet equipment, especially broadcasting devices.

Poorly Shielded Cabling – If you use external hard drives or other devices that you need to be physically cabled to in order to connect, then this can lead an interference with wireless signal. To test if any Wi-Fi issues are due to poorly shielded cables, simply remove the offending device temporarily and see if the problem improves. If the issue goes away then you can replace the troublesome cable to resolve the issue permanently for that device.

How do I solve a Wi-Fi interference issue if it’s due to frequency?

  • Most instances of frequency-based Wi-Fi interference can be solved by changing the broadcast channel on your Wi-Fi device.
  • Channels can largely be set between 1 and 13 – Try out a few different ones to see which one works the best.
  • In the UK, the best channels to use are 1, 7 and 13.
  • You can have a look and see which channel is most commonly used in your area by using a Wi-Fi scanning tool such as WiFi Analyzer. You can then choose the least used channel, confident that you will encounter less Wi-Fi interference.
  • If you have a high-end router, you will have the option to use 5GHz. This is the most effective way to solve Wi-Fi interference issues.

If you’ve checked these and tried the solutions but are still having Wi-Fi problems, then don’t be afraid to call in the experts! Our Wi-Fi engineers are still working, mainly out of Hampshire and London, and can help with a variety of Wi-Fi problems.

Check back next week when we’ll be talking more about Wi-Fi interference, in regards to capacity and coverage.

Are My Wi-Fi Issues Caused by Wi-Fi Interference?

Since 1997, when Wi-Fi emerged into the consumer world, it’s become integral to everyday life. For many it’s a vital way of staying connected with friends, family and colleagues – At home, at work and even out and about.

We tend to take it a bit for granted, when in actual fact we probably feel like we couldn’t live without it – Especially during 2020! And like so many things – We really only notice how much we depend on it when it’s not there. Much like when there is a power cut and all the lights go out – When Wi-Fi isn’t working properly, we really feel it’s absence.

Is there anything quite as frustrating as dodgy Wi-Fi?

Technology wouldn’t be technology without its issues, and Wi-Fi is no exception. So what can cause Wi-Fi problems? One of the biggest issues to affect how successful and reliable a Wi-Fi connection is, is Wi-Fi interference. In this blog we’re going to be looking at how you might go about detecting whether your Wi-Fi woe is an interference issue

How do I know if my Wi-Fi issue is due to Wi-Fi interference?

Here are a couple of problems you may experience if you are having trouble with Wi-Fi interference.

 

  • Trouble with signal strength, and having low signal despite being in close proximity to a Wi-Fi broadcast device like a router
  • You have no connectivity issues when using a wired connection, but have a considerably slower connection when connecting using Wi-Fi
  • Trying to transfer files between computers using Wi-Fi, and finding it very slow
  • Being unable to pair devices using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth despite being in close proximity to the receiver
  • Your Wi-Fi connection Intermittently dropping out

 

If you are experiencing one or more of these annoying Wi-Fi issues, then it’s quite possible that something is causing interference with your Wi-Fi.

There are two main types of Wi-Fi Interference – Physical and Frequency. We’ll be covering some examples of each of these in next weeks blog. Check back then to see how you can identify what may be causing your Wi-Fi interference issue, and how you can go about fixing it.

If you require any Wi-Fi help in the meantime, then please don’t hesitate to give our Wi-Fi experts a call. We’re still working under the current government guidelines, and mainly operating out of Hampshire and London. Don’t let dodgy Wi-Fi be the reason you can’t find a connection.