If you are experiencing problems with your wireless router, then you might start tweaking the settings in order to improve performance, like choosing a different channel. But are some channels inherently better than others? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a curious reader’s question.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader IAmJulianAcosta wants to know if it is better to use a Wi-Fi channel with a higher frequency:

Today I had to call tech support to have my Wi-Fi channel changed because it was using channel 7, but the guy on the phone told me that channel 1 was “less powerful” than channel 11. He suggested that I use channel 11.

Using a Wi-Fi analyzer app, I discovered that channel 1 is the least used one in my building, so I ignored his recommendation and asked for channel 1. Was he right? Is channel 11 better?

Is it better to use a Wi-Fi channel with a higher frequency?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Mokubai has the answer for us:

Channel numbers do not denote power “levels”, so channel 11 is not “better” than channel 1 simply because it is ten digits higher. Wi-Fi does have overlapping channels though, which means that devices do not “want” to be on a channel that is too close to another nearby station’s channel.

For the best results and interoperability (least interference), there are only three channel choices: channel 1, channel 6, and channel 11. Here is an image showing why:

If there are many networks near your location, then you want to choose the channel which has the fewest or weakest signals. If, as you mention, that happens to be channel 1, then that is the channel you should use.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Image Credit: Synthesis Studios (Flickr)

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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