WiFi is the most widely used wireless communication technology in the world today. It enables us to connect to the internet and other devices without using physical cables. One of the crucial concepts in WiFi networking is channels. In simple terms, a WiFi channel is a frequency band in which the data is transmitted between the router and the device. However, the Channel width plays a critical role in wireless network performance and user experience, which is the amount of spectrum used to transmit data.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to have a thorough understanding of both concepts to optimize wireless network performance. Try to choose channels with fewer devices, avoid using heavy duty applications in a crowded network, or use 5GHz Wi-Fi, as it usually has a more significant channel width compared to 2.4GHz.
WiFi channels are the small segment of frequencies that your wireless router uses to send and receive data between your devices and the internet. For better understanding, Think of WiFi channels as different lanes on the highway. Each channel transmits data on a specific frequency, and choosing a less congested lane improves your connection speed and stability. WiFi operates in two main frequencies; 2.4GHz frequency band(Wider coverage but more crowded) and 5GHz frequency band(Less congested, offering faster speeds but with slightly shorter range).
Channel width, on the other hand, refers to the size of the channel your router is using to transmit data. Generally, a wider channel width can provide faster performance as it allows more data to be transmitted at once. However, wider channels can also cause more interference with nearby WiFi networks, so it’s important to choose the right channel width for your particular environment to ensure optimal performance and compatibility with other nearby networks.
Basically , each frequency bands (2.4GHz or 5GHz) has a specific allowed range to be use in WiFi networks. For technical reasons, the standard organizations have divided these range to channels (14 channels in 2.4GHz and 25 channels in 5GHz frequency bands) , each with specific broad, which is known as Channel Width.
In the 2.4GHz band, the width of each channel is 20MHz, but in the 5GHz band, the width of each channel can be 20,40,80 or 160 MHz. The width of WiFi channel determines how much data can pass through the channel in a period of time. Suppose the channel as a highway and the channel width as highway’s width. The wider the highway, the more traffic (data) can pass through. By increasing the channel width, we can increase the speed and throughput of WiFi network. ( Read More : WiFi Standards Chart )
In theory, the wider channel provides more bandwidth, but you should consider the effect of interferences and devices compatibility. Now that you know the channel and channel width concepts, we can make a right decision for channel width selection. Read More: How to Boost WiFi Signal With Aluminum Foil
A 20 MHz channel width is typically used when there is a high density of devices or interference in the surrounding environment. It provides better throughput performance and can help in reducing interference from neighboring networks.
Use 20 MHz channel width in 2.4GHz band, in such cases :
With 20 MHz channel-Width in 2.4GHz band, you will have 3 non-Overlapping channels(1,6,11).
Use 20 MHz channel width in 5GHz band, in such cases :
With 20 MHz channel-Width in 5GHz band , you will have 8 non-Overlapping channels(36,40,44,48,149,153,157,161).
40 MHz channel width is typically used to increase the data transmission rate. It allows for wider frequency bands to be utilized and can provide higher throughput compared to the standard 20 MHz channel width. The 40 MHz channel Width is created by Bonding two 20 MHz channels, commonly used in 5GHz band. The 40 MHz channel Width enables you to improve performance compared to 20 MHz channel width.
However, it is important to note that using a 40 MHz channel width also consumes a larger portion of the available spectrum. This can lead to potential interference issues, particularly in densely populated areas where multiple Wi-Fi networks are operating in close proximity. It is recommended to only use 40 MHz channel width when there is minimal interference and a relatively clear wireless environment. Before setting your router to 40 MHz Channel Width , check the interference level by WiFi-Analyzer tools to find the optimal channel.
With 40 MHz channel-Width in 5GHz band , you will have 4 non-Overlapping channels(38,46,151,159).
You should use an 80 MHz channel width in Wi-Fi networks when you have ample available spectrum and want to provide higher data rates and faster performance. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
The 80 MHz channel Width is supported by WiFi5 (802.11ac) and WiFi6 (802.11ax) devices, with only 2 non-overlapping channels. So, increases the possibility of interference. Consider in mind that due to technical reasons, for maximum performance with 80 MHz (and 160MHz), devices need to be close to the router. Typically , the 80 Mhz is using for Mesh-backhaul and bridging between routers.
With 80 MHz Channel-Width, you will have 2 non-Overlapping channels(42,155).
While 160 MHz channel width is available in Wi-Fi 5 and optimized in Wi-Fi 6, it currently has limited practical use due to the need for a large, clear frequency space and challenges with compatibility and interference. Read More : WiFi6 Technical Specifications.
The 160 MHz channel width, with only 1 non-overlapping channel, is typically used for scenarios with high client density and limited neighboring WiFi interference. Also offers superior performance, allowing for efficient data distribution among multiple users. However, it is important to note that not all devices support 160MHz channel width, and it requires a wide channel space to fully operate. Therefore, it is mainly suitable for advanced home users or small business environments with few nearby Wi-Fi networks.
Remember, wider channels also sacrifice coverage area. So, if coverage is crucial in larger spaces, stick to narrower channels. Ultimately, the decision to utilize 160 MHz depends on your specific needs: number of users, neighboring Wi-Fi presence, device compatibility, desired range, and available spectrum. Choose wisely!
This table simplifies the world of WiFi channels and channel width, helping you pick the perfect settings for a faster, smoother online experience.
|Older devices, High interference, Prioritize coverage
|Maximum coverage, High-density environments
|Higher speeds, Less coverage, fewer nearby networks (check compatibility)
|High-performance, minimal interference, compatible devices, Less coverage compared to narrower channels
|Ultra High-performance, Advanced, limited nearby WiFi, compatible devices, Less coverage compared to narrower channels
WiFi channels and channel width, all figured out! Remember, it’s like choosing the right lane on a highway for your data traffic. Think about your devices, your environment, and your need for speed, then pick the settings that give you the smoothest ride. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you! And if you get stuck, check your router manual or ask your internet provider for help. Happy surfing!
Now that you’re armed with your channel width knowledge, let’s take it to the next level! Share your experiences using different channels and channel widths in the comments below.
Did you notice a speed boost with 40MHz on 5GHz? Did 20MHz in 2.4GHz offer better coverage in your apartment building?
Your insights can help others navigate the WiFi maze and enjoy smoother connections. Remember, the more information we share, the faster everyone gets online!