A WiFi channel is a small segment of a frequency through which our wireless networks can send and receive data. There are two frequencies available, 2.4Ghz with 14 channels (but only 3 non-overlapping channels) and 5Ghz with 23 channels (but only 8 channels are defined for indoor routers and access points). Each WiFi channel has a specific broad, which is known as WiFi channel Width. ( Check IEEE 802.11 wireless standards )
Most Used Home WiFi Routers :
What is WiFi Channel Width?
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 in 2.4ghz band and 45 in 5ghz band) , each with specific broad, which is known as channel Width.
In 2.4Ghz band , each channel has 20Mhz width , but in 5Ghz , each channel can has 20,40,80 or 160Mhz width. 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. ( Check WiFi Standards brief Explanation Post for More Related Information)
Which channel width should I use?
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.
When to use 20Mhz?
Use 20Mhz channel width in 2.4Ghz band, in such cases :
- When you have a 2.4Ghz-only router
- When you have legacy client devices.
- If you have high interferences around you.
- When you want to have maximum coverage.
With 20Mhz channel-Width in 2.4Ghz band, you will have 3 non-Overlapping channels(1,6,11).
Use 20Mhz channel width in 5Ghz band , in such cases :
- When you want to have maximum coverage
- When you want to deploy WiFi network in a high-density environment.
With 20Mhz channel-Width in 5ghz band , you will have 8 non-Overlapping channels(36,40,44,48,149,153,157,161)
When to use 40Mhz ?
The 40Mhz channel Width is created by bonding two 20Mhz channels, commonly used in 5ghz band. The 40Mhz channel Width enables you to improve performance relative to 20Mhz channel width. But consider in mind, the wider the channel, the higher the probability of the negative effect of the interferences. Before setting your router to 40Mhz Channel Width , check the interference level by WiFi-Analyzer Tools to find the least-crowded channel.
With 40Mhz channel-Width in 5ghz band , you will have 4 non-Overlapping channels(38,46,151,159)
When to use 80 Mhz?
The 80Mhz channel Width is supported by 802.11ac and 802.11ax devices, you will have only 2 non-overlapping channels so, increases the likelihood for interference. Consider in mind, due to technical reasons, the clients should be very close to the router to take advantage of 80Mhz channel. Typically , the 80Mhz is using for Mesh-backhaul and bridging between routers.
With 80Mhz Channel-Width, you will have 2 non-Overlapping channels(42,155)
When to use 160 Mhz?
The real 160Mhz channel-width is introduced in 802.11ac(WiFi5) and optimized in 802.11ax(WiFi6) technology, with only 1 non-overlapping channel. We should wait for the technical grow in both routers and clients to be able to use that. Read More : 802.11ax (WiFi6) Technical Explanation.