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Posted Jan 17, 2010
6:02:22 PM
How to Minimize Wireless Interference

Introduction

 

This guide will give you a brief introduction on how to minimize wireless interference in your home network.  In the home environment, many things can interfere with consumer wireless network devices.  These devices, referred to by their IEEE standard number (802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n) operate in the 2.4 GHz band, which is a highly crowded spectrum.  By use of a simple freeware tool, you can optimize your wireless network to avoid interference from other wireless networks operating near you.

 

 

Terminology

 

The following terms are used in this guide:

 

802.11b - This is an older wireless standard that can operate at data rates up to 11 Mbps.  Access points using only 802.11b are not very common anymore.

 

802.11g - The most common wireless standard, and the one that is used in the U-Verse RG.  It can operate at data rates up to 54 Mbps by the standard, although some manufacturers have used proprietary methods to achieve higher data rates, such as up to 108 Mbps.  These data rates can usually only be achieved if the same manufacturer's equipment is used at both the access point and on the client computer.

 

802.11n - The newest wireless standard, can operate at data rates up to 300 Mbps.  802.11n is subject to more interference than 802.11b or g because it uses a larger slice of the 2.4 GHz spectrum.

 

Channel - The 2.4 GHz spectrum is divided into channels, numbered 1 through 11.  Most wireless access points, including the U-Verse RG, can be set to use a particular channel.  Selecting which channel to use is the most important thing to avoid interference.  You would ideally like to select a channel that is not in use by neighbors, and far away from other channels that are in use.

 

Received Signal Strength (RSS or RSSI) - This is the strength of the wireless signal in the air at the receiver.  This ranges from -100 dBm (the noise floor) up to 0 dBm (theoretical maximum).  Signal strengths below about -80 dBm are generally too weak for a laptop to connect to.  Typical signal strength inside the house, if your wireless access point is working properly, is -60 dBm up to -40 dBm.

 

SSID - This is the name of the wireless network, which is set at the access point.  The U-Verse RG has a default SSID of "2WIRExxx", where xxx is a 3-digit number.

 

Frequency Spectrum - This is a range of elecromagnetic frequencies.  The ones we are interested in are the ones used by 802.11, which ranges from 2.412 GHz (center frequency for channel 1) up to 2.462 GHz (center frequency for channel 11).

 

 

InSSIDer

 

This program, InSSIDer, is the program you can use to get information about all the wireless networks in your vicinity.  InSSIDer can be downloaded from the Metageeks.net web site.

 

Once you have downloaded InSSIDer, install it and run it on a laptop with a wireless network card.  At the top of the screen will be a pull-down menu listing all wireless network cards in the computer.  Select your wireless network card (most laptops only have one).  Also select the "2.4 GHz" button to the right of the pull-down menu.  After those selections are complete, click the "Start Scanning" button on the left.  After a few minutes of scanning, you will end up with a screen that looks like this:

 

 

 

 

The top part of the window shows all the different wireless networks that have been seen by your laptop.  For each wireless network, listed is the vendor (the manufacturer of the access point), a check box which controls whether this wireless network is graphed in the bottom graphs or not, a signal strength meter (this also has a lock icon on it if the wireless network is protected by some type of encryption), the MAC address of the access point, the SSID (name of the wireless network), the channel that the wireless network is using, the received signal strength indicator (RSSI) in dBm, the encryption/security protocol the network is using, whether the network is an access point or an ad-hoc (computer-to-computer) network, the highest supported network speed in Mbps, and the time that the network was first and last seen.  The location column only functions if you have a GPS peripheral installed in your laptop.

 

On the lower left is a graph that shows the received signal strength (RSSI) over time.  The colors correspond to the color of the check box in the list at the top.

 

On the lower right is the most important graph, it is a graph of all the wireless networks seen and the frequency/channel that they are operating on.  As you can see here, my home network (SSID = danzone) is operating on channel 9.

 

 

Channel Overlap

 

802.11 wireless does not use just one certain channel, unfortunately.  The channel that the wireless network is operating on is where the frequency is centered, but the actual frequencies used extend away from that channel in both directions, and actually overlap 2 channels on each side.  Thus, my access point, while it is centered on channel 9, is using frequencies from channel 7 up to channel 11, and is subject to interference anywhere in that range.  The width of each set of frequencies used is 20 MHz (this is important to know later when we talk about 802.11n).  The set of frequencies used can also be called a lobe, named from the shape of the frequency curve.

 

 

Wireless Access Point Location

 

If you have a large house, especially a 2-story, you may want to take the laptop at this point to all the rooms in the house where wireless is likely to be used, and watch the received signal strength graph (lower left) over time.  Make sure that you have an adequate wireless signal (greater than -60 dBm) in all rooms where wireless will be used.  If you have a room where the received signal strength drops below -60 dBm, you may want to look into relocating the wireless access point, or adding an additional wireless access point in your home.

 

 

Identifying the Best Channel to Use

 

Next, you may want to clean up the channel graph by removing wireless networks that are too weak to interfere.  Go through the list and uncheck any wireless network where the received signal strength (RSSI) is less than -85 dBm.  These networks are generally too weak to worry about, and removing them from the channel graph will let you see the stronger networks.

 

From the graph on the lower right, you will be able to get a feel for what will be the best channel for you to use.  Take a look at the other wireless networks in your area, and see if there is a spot in the channel map that looks the least busy.  For my location shown above, that would be channel 8 or 9.  There are 2 networks operating on channel 6 (SARA and Buffalo), and one network operating on channel 11 (user-PC-wireless).  SARA and Buffalo have frequency components extending up to channel 8, and user-PC-wireless has frequency components extending down to channel 9.  However, the frequency components at the tail ends of those networks are small, leaving a lot of room at channel 8 or 9 for my network to operate.  The lower part of the spectrum (channels 1 through 6) is very crowded in my area, so I probably shouldn't try to use those channels.  They may work, but there is more potential for interference.

 

 

Changing The Channel on the U-Verse RG

 

To change the channel on the U-Verse RG, go to the following link:

 

http://192.168.1.254/xslt?PAGE=C_2_1

 

At the top, you will see a pull-down menu for the wireless channel.  Select the channel that you identified as being the least busy, and then click Save at the bottom.

 

 

Changing the Channel on other Wireless Access Points/Wireless Routers

 

Other routers have similar settings to let you change the wireless channel.  Follow your manufacturer's directions to configure your router or wireless access point.

 

 

Automatic Channel Selection

 

Some routers have the ability to automatically select the wireless channel, and will try to select the one that is the least busy automatically.  The U-Verse RG is supposed to do this, but it doesn't always work.  Other routers may also do this, and you may have to turn this feature off if you want to select the channel manually.

 

 

Once you have changed your channel, your laptop will disconnect and reconnect to your wireless network.  Verify with InSSIDer that your network is operating on the channel you selected.

 

 

Using your Own Wireless Router or Access Point

 

If you have your own wireless router or access point, you will want to turn the wireless on the U-Verse RG off to prevent it from interfering with yours.  Go to the following link:

 

http://192.168.1.254/xslt?PAGE=C_2_1

 

In the upper right, click the "Disable" button next to where it says "Wireless" to turn the built-in wireless in the U-Verse RG off.

 

 

802.11n

 

If you have an 802.11n wireless access point or wireless router, there are additional things you need to know.  802.11n operates as if it was two separate 802.11g access points.  One set of frequencies is the "primary" set and operates just like an 802.11g access point.  This set of frequencies (the primary lobe) is 20 MHz wide, just like an 802.11g access point.  Any clients that are 802.11g-only connect to this primary lobe.

 

The 802.11n access point then selects another 20 MHz wide lobe (the secondary lobe) exactly 4 channels away from the primary channel. Thus, for example, if the primary lobe is on channel 9, the access point begins operating a secondary lobe on channel 5.  This results in a total of 40 MHz of bandwidth being used for the 802.11n access point, overlapping a total of 8 channels (in this example, channels 3-7 for the secondary lobe, and 7-11 for the primary lobe).

 

This is why 802.11n is generally subject to more interference than 802.11g, because the large slice of the spectrum that it uses can pick up more interference (double the width of an 802.11g access point).

 

InSSIDer will report the channel that the 802.11n access point is operating on in 2 different ways depending on whether you are scanning it from an 802.11g-only laptop or from an 802.11n laptop.  If you are scanning from an 802.11g-only laptop, the channel will be reported as the channel of the primary lobe (channel 9 in the above example), and you will not be able to see the secondary lobe.  If you are scanning from an 802.11n laptop, the channel will be reported as the channel where the primary and secondary lobes touch each other, which is channel 7 in the above example.  Also note that InSSIDer will not report the correct width of an 802.11n access point -- it always shows a width of 20 MHz, even though the access point frequency spread is double that.

 

As a further complication, some laptops with 802.11n network cards can be set to operate in 802.11n single-lobe mode.  In this mode, the laptop connects using 802.11n protocols, but only to the primary lobe, resulting in a maximum speed of 150 Mbps.  If you have a laptop set to do this, InSSIDer will report the 802.11n access point channel as if the laptop was operating in 802.11g mode (channel reported as the primary lobe).

 

 

Potential Sources of Interference other than 802.11 Networks

 

Many consumer devices operate in the 2.4 GHz band.  All of these devices can interfere with your wireless network, and they won't show up on InSSIDer's graphs.  Some of these devices are:

 

Microwave Ovens - A very common offender.  Microwave ovens can have interference that appears all over the spectrum, but many microwave ovens have interference specifically near channel 11 and channel 7, and somewhat in between as well.  If the microwave oven is a problem in your household, try using the lower channels (1-3) for your wireless network.

 

Cordless Phones - Another common offender.  Older cordless phones operated in the 900 MHz band, these won't interfere with wireless.  Some new cordless phones offer 5 GHz capability, or 1.9 GHz capability (the 1.9 GHz phones are marketed as "DECT 6.0").  Either of these types of cordless phones won't interfere with 802.11 wireless.  2.4 GHz phones have 2 different types: One type hops frequencies all over the 2.4 GHz spectrum, causing a lot of interference on every channel.  A second type stays on one particular frequency, and can be selected to others by the user using a switch or by programming the phone through the keypad.  If you have the former, you may be out of luck.  If you have the latter, they typically operate in the low channels (channel 1-3), but you will have to look at the specs to see the exact frequencies.  To correlate the frequencies with the 802.11 channels see the 802.11g article at Wikipedia.

 

Bluetooth - Bluetooth operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency band, but is typically very low power.  Additionally, there are protocols that wireless and Bluetooth use to peacefully coexist, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

 

Wireless Video Senders - Most of these devices operate in the 2.4 GHz band, and their frequencies can overlap 4-6 channels.  You will have to look at the specifications to see what frequencies are in use.

 

Baby Monitors - These devices operate very similarly to the wireless video senders, but typically don't overlap as many channels.

 

 

802.11 NIC Quality

 

Another item frequently overlooked is the quality of the 802.11 NIC used in the laptop.  Most laptops with built-in wireless have a decent wireless chipset, but some do not.  In particular, the Intel 2200 NIC is one known to have frequent problems.  For 3rd-party 802.11 NICs, it is unfortunate but many people have problems with the 2-Wire NICs provided by AT&T.  A name-brand 802.11 NIC such as one from Linksys, D-Link, NetGear, TrendNet, etc. will likely have much better performance.

 

 

Conclusion

 

While the use of InSSIDer won't eliminate all wireless problems, it can be used effectively to identify a channel that has the least likelihood for interference from other wireless networks, can be used to verify that your access point is operating on the channel that is assigned, and can be used to verify signal strength in all parts of your house.  WIth that plus the other points in this guide, you should be able to get optimum network performance on all of your wireless computers.

 

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Jan 1, 2012 4:47:31 PM
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Edited by spd2demun on Jan 1, 2012 at 4:50:45 PM

Go to this page, and type in a new password, then hit the Save button:

Use custom Wireless Network Key

http://192.168.1.254/xslt?PAGE=C_2_1

 

Once you change the password, use MAC filtering on this page:

Enable

http://192.168.1.254/xslt?PAGE=C_2_1a

Put your devices in the ALLOWED column, anything else in your area, put them in the BLOCKED column.  If you know the neighbor's Network name, you can find his MAC address now and block him there.

 

This page is for the RGs settings--see if you can change it (if neighbor hasn't already).

http://192.168.1.254/xslt?PAGE=C_0_1

 

IF the neighbor has already changed the passwords, then you'll have to do a factory reset of the RG and start over.  It's a tiny button on the back of the RG.

 

After you get all of that done, then change your encryption type to WPA2 (not WEP or WAP) as it's really difficult to hack, on this page under SECURITY:

Authentication Type

http://192.168.1.254/xslt?PAGE=C_2_1

 

If you need more help, don't be afraid to come back and ask; we can walk you through it. :smileywink:

 

I know that's a lot, but you need to get your Network locked down so the neighbor can't ever use it again.

 

 

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How to Minimize Wireless Interference

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Jan 17, 2010 8:45:41 PM
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Wow, highly interesting post, SomeJoe.  I learned a few things from this.  Thanks for your effort, and community spirit!

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Jan 20, 2010 2:15:31 AM
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SUPER DUPER!  :smileyhappy:

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Jan 20, 2010 9:53:37 AM
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ACE - Expert

This should be a sticky at the top of this board, High Speed Internet Access, so it doesn't float away. :smileyvery-happy:

 

Chris


Please NO SD stretch-o-vision or 480 SD HD Channels
1-800-983-2811 to avoid Mr. Voice Recognition
YRMV IMHO Simply a U-verse user, nothing more
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.

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Feb 5, 2010 5:04:25 PM
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SomeJoe7777 thank you for all your great posts! You provide so much assistance and answers to all U-Verse users! Question: do you know of an InSSIDer similar program for the mac? Thanks again!

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Feb 5, 2010 7:24:46 PM
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Nice work as usual.
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.

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Feb 6, 2010 8:43:39 AM
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struesdell wrote:
SomeJoe7777 thank you for all your great posts! You provide so much assistance and answers to all U-Verse users! Question: do you know of an InSSIDer similar program for the mac? Thanks again!

 

That same company (MetaGeek) also produces some retail products that can analyze even further.  They sell a $99 device called the Wi-Spy 2.4i, which in addition to the network identity functions that InSSIDer does, also performs 2.4 GHz spectrum analysis, allowing you to see non-802.11 interference.

 

The software that goes with that product is Chanalyzer Lite, which has a Mac version for MacOS X 10.6.

 

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Feb 9, 2010 8:52:41 AM
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Just an FYI if it helps anyone...

 

I was on channel 8 and everytime the microwave was used I would lose all wireless (B and G) so I read some article on the net that tested microwaves and they said that the lower channels worked better (under 6 I think) and something about 1, 3 and 6 being the best.

 

So I switched from channel 8 to channel 1 and while the microwave still affects the wireless... now I get about 1/3 speed on channel 1 vs losing ALL wireless on channel 8.

 

Hope this helps someone.

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Feb 9, 2010 11:00:36 PM
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original.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I just wanna make sure i understand this and its right. Jorgie is my ap. and LOLWIRELESS is a N AP. from what i understand im perfectly fine where im at right? I heard channel 1 is better?/



Message Edited by TreyW on 02-10-2010 09:07 PM

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Feb 10, 2010 12:25:45 AM
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Anything like this for a mac?  My internet drops for 10-20 seconds every 5-10 minutes or so... Quite annoying and I don't know what's interfering with my signal.  AT&T Tech support has been mostly no help with this problem, as they seem to think that since it works "most of the time," it's good enough for them.

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Feb 10, 2010 6:33:14 PM
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Jo_795,

 

If you're not getting any interference, then I wouldn't worry about it.  If you are, then move your access point to channel 4 or 8.

 

 

softballison,

 

Nothing that I know of for the Mac that is free.  For a pay solution, see my post a few posts back in this thread.

 

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Mar 2, 2010 5:22:07 AM
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Thanks, SomeJoe! you put a lot of effort into that help topic!

 

But just before I delve into all that, can you recommend to me a specific device I can go and buy that:

 

(1) Does not require any cables from the 2Wire box

(2) Will boost the signal by "catching" it from the air and re-broadcasting it after amplifying

(3) Maybe sits somewhere half-way to the location that suffers the puny signal.

 

Thanks!

Frank

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Mar 2, 2010 5:22:49 AM
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I forgot to turn on the email notification.

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Mar 2, 2010 5:47:01 AM
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Sweet! I downloaded the little program and found that my frequency was crowded with others nearby. I spotted your clue to upgrade from my NIC if it was some sorry off-brand. As it turns out, I am dealing with a desktop, not a laptop.

 

Thanks again,

Frank

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Mar 2, 2010 7:29:29 AM
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fgriffintx wrote:

 

But just before I delve into all that, can you recommend to me a specific device I can go and buy that:

 

(1) Does not require any cables from the 2Wire box

(2) Will boost the signal by "catching" it from the air and re-broadcasting it after amplifying

(3) Maybe sits somewhere half-way to the location that suffers the puny signal.


 

 

There is no such device that will work with the RG.  You can put another wireless access point in the house, but it will have to be connected to the RG using a Cat5e Ethernet cable.

 

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Mar 2, 2010 11:32:17 AM
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Thanks - but that's too bad. I was hoping to get out of the wiring business.

 

So that means that devices (such as the one below), really don't work with the 2Wire, despite their claims

 

http://www.amazon.com/Hawking-HWREN1-Hi-Gain-Wireless-300N-Extender/dp/B001DMEYCY/ref=dp_cp_ob_e_tit...

 

Thanks,

Frank

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Mar 2, 2010 6:32:58 PM
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No, that device probably won't work correctly with the RG (or any other 2-Wire router).  These devices don't correctly bridge the MAC addresses of the clients connected to it (they do MAC-NAT), which will cause the RG to incorrectly route.

 

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Mar 2, 2010 6:41:00 PM
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OK, Joe.

 

Thanks again.

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Sep 9, 2010 12:04:46 PM
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I am getting interference from florescent lights.  Actually, the lights can be on and don't interfere for about 14 minutes.  Then the humming starts.  Turn off the lights and it quits.  Back on and it starts again  i.e. I have the VOI phone with my AT&T DSL, and HD TV.

 

Any ideas?

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Sep 9, 2010 1:58:51 PM
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Try another wireless channel.


GeneR wrote:

I am getting interference from florescent lights.  Actually, the lights can be on and don't interfere for about 14 minutes.  Then the humming starts.  Turn off the lights and it quits.  Back on and it starts again  i.e. I have the VOI phone with my AT&T DSL, and HD TV.

 

Any ideas?


 

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Sep 11, 2010 12:12:36 AM
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SomeJoe7777, I think you forgot to write about 802.11n on 5Ghz. Less interference for a lot of people if everyone is using the 2.4Ghz band in their area.

 

Also, anyone looking for a free wireless scanning utility for the Mac, check out iStumbler. 100% free and open-source. I use it and it works great.

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Jan 21, 2011 6:31:59 AM
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I was having problems with Roku streaming from my 2Wire box on AT&T U-Verse, and someone pointed me to your post.  I downladed the monitoring software and indeed found quite a bit of interference (from neighbors WiFi).  I changed the settings from Auto Channel select to a low-interference channel, and it seems to have solved the problem.  Thanks for a great, really informative and easy to follow post!

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Feb 8, 2011 1:53:23 PM
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Hope this string is still active...

 

I'm having the exact same problem.  I'm a new U Verse user, and the Internet connection just drop out for no reason, then comes back, no rhyme or reason.  Did you ever figure this out?

 

One solution I was thinking of was to switch back to my airport for the router, but am not sure how that will afftect my TV and phone, since I have the triple play option.

 

Any ideas?  Thanks in advance.

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Feb 8, 2011 1:57:31 PM
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I have had Uverse for over 3 years and we have a treadmill in my basement.  On a totally different circuit than the RG.  For about 2 or 3 months when someone was on the treadmill it interfered with the RG severly.  All services were out.  The last few times we have used the treadmill the RG wasn't affected at all.  I was going to ask SJ what I could do to resolve the issue, but it seems to have cleared up.

*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.

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THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! I was having intereference w/ my 2.4 wireless home phone and everytime it was in use my uverse internet would go down. I changed my wireless channel and all is well! THANK YOU!!!

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Apr 7, 2011 7:27:54 PM
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Good post but before people start spending hours trying to figure out wireless interference ...

 

Having spent time reading thru the forums about interference, I think it is best to validate that interference is the problem by doing a simple test. Take your residential gateway outside and connect it to the line that is coming into the house and connect your laptop to the box thru ethernet.  If it still doesn't work or it is still slow then intereference is not your problem. It is some setting in the AT&T network that no one knows that is the problem. Ok, I saw one post that said that their problem was resolved by some settings change on their network. I haven't been lucky so far ...

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May 9, 2011 7:23:53 PM
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SomeJoe7777 wrote:

Introduction

 

This guide will give you a brief introduction on how to minimize wireless interference in your home network.  In the home environment, many things can interfere with consumer wireless network devices.  These devices, referred to by their IEEE standard number (802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n) operate in the 2.4 GHz band, which is a highly crowded spectrum.  By use of a simple freeware tool, you can optimize your wireless network to avoid interference from other wireless networks operating near you.

 


 

Great Information.

 

My RG works fairly well, but not nearly as well as my 5 month old D-Link.  I'll try your suggestions prior to adding on the D-Link.

 

Thank You!

 

Jamie

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May 24, 2011 10:31:05 AM
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If the UV RGs WAP is giving you trouble, and you already have another router available, save yourself some time and just use the other router.  Been there. :smileywink:


jamiedolan wrote:
Great Information.

 

My RG works fairly well, but not nearly as well as my 5 month old D-Link.  I'll try your suggestions prior to adding on the D-Link.

 

Thank You!

 

Jamie




 

Re: How to Minimize Wireless Interference

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Jul 27, 2011 6:42:22 PM
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I downloaed the program, and it was educational, but it really didn't help me.  

 

My connection range has absolutely no interference at all from it.   Still, I'm getting this buggy connection.  

 

I have tried going down to the same level as the modem, but that doesn't seem to make any difference.  It's in a room by itself, though it's close to the dividing wall of another room where the TV is.  Any suggestions?

Re: How to Minimize Wireless Interference

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Jul 27, 2011 7:14:07 PM
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Take another look at the first post in this thread (by SomeJoe).  He gives a detailed explanation of things to look for that could be causing interference.

 

SomeJoe even had a personal experience and took a lot of tracking to find a source at his home.

 

Any cordless phones nearby?  Baby monitors?  Fluorescent lamps, particularly desk lamps?

Re: How to Minimize Wireless Interference

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