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How to Change WiFi Channel on Your Router

Using the most suitable WiFi channel is a key to unlocking fast internet speeds, and this article explains how to change the default WiFi channel on your router with the help of NetSpot WiFi channel scanner.
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  • NetSpot
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting
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  • 969 User reviews

Let’s take a look at how you can use NetSpot, a professional WiFi channel scanner and site survey app for macOS and Windows, to find the best WiFi channel for your particular location so that you can change WiFi channel without guessing.

What Is WiFi Channel?

The 802.11 standard for WiFi networks provides several distinct radio frequency ranges for use in WiFi communications, with the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands being used most often. Both of these frequency bands consist of multiple channels.

The 2.4 GHz band has a total of fourteen channels, but not all of them are allowed in all countries. In North America, for example, only 11 of the 14 channels can be used. Each channel in the 2.4 GHz band is 22 MHz wide, and there are 5 MHz gaps between the centers of adjacent channels.

This means that all channels except for the channels 1, 6, and 11 (or 2, 7, 12 or 3, 8, 13 or 4, 9, 14, if allowed) overlap.

Channels
Channels

The situation is a lot better in the 5 GHz band because there’s much more space. The 5 GHz band offers 23 non-overlapping 20 MHz wide channels, as well as several 40 MHz, 80 MHz, and 160 MHz channels.

When two or more WiFi routers are on the same channel, interference may occur and reduce the throughput of the network. Interference may also occur when multiple WiFi routers broadcast on overlapping channels. Ideally, each router in an area should broadcast on a different non-interfering channel, which is only possible with the help of a WiFi channel analyzer tool such as NetSpot.

Channels NetSpot
Channels NetSpot

While WiFi routers have been broadcasting on the 2.4 GHz band since the original version of the 802.11 standard was released in 1997, the 5 GHz band hasn’t seen much in terms of utilization until the release of the 802.11n standard in 2009.

The latest WiFi standard, 802.11ac, supports both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, giving users who know how to change WiFi channel an excellent opportunity to achieve higher speeds and greater coverage.

How to Use a WiFi Channel Analyzer?

NetSpot is a versatile WiFi site survey, WiFi analysis, and troubleshooting tool for macOS and Windows that can also be used as a WiFi channel analyzer to show WiFi channel overlap. Here’s what you need to do to discover the best WiFi channel:

  1. Visit the official website of NetSpot and download the free version of the application. Open the downloaded installation file and follow the instructions.
  2. Launch NetSpot and click Continue to use the free version of the application. NetSpot launches in Discover mode by default, and that’s a great starting point for changing your WiFi channel.
Discover Mode
Discover Mode
  1. Select your own WiFi network and click Details from the bottom toolbar. Now, switch to the Channels 2.4 GHz tab and look at the channel graph displayed by NetSpot to see which channel your WiFi network broadcasts on and which channels it overlaps with. Remember this information.
Channel graph
Channel graph
  1. Now, deselect your WiFi network and select all other WiFi networks. The channel graph view will automatically update, and it should be clear which channels are used the most and which are available.
  2. Now that you know which channels are used the least, the only thing left to do is to actually change your router channel setting, and we describe how to do just that in the next section of this article.

As you can see, NetSpot is incredibly easy to use, which is why many consider it to be the best WiFi channel scanner for Mac and the best WiFi channel scanner for Windows. With its help, avoiding co-channel interference by doing methodical WiFi channel planning prior, during, and post deployment is something anyone can do.

Besides helping you understand WiFi channel overlap, you can also use NetSpot to create a comprehensive WiFi coverage heat map with Survey mode. By outlining your real-life WiFi data on a map, you can easily discover all areas of signal weakness and decide if it wouldn’t be better to place your router elsewhere. All the information you gather with NetSpot can be exported in PDF or CSV and used in other applications.

WiFi Heatmap by NetSpot
WiFi Heatmap by NetSpot

What’s great about NetSpot is that you can download it for free and run it on any macOS or Windows computer with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter. NetSpot supports 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands at 20/40/80/160 MHz channels, making it fully compatible with the latest WiFi standard.

In fact, NetSpot is also one of the best WiFi channel scanners for Android, and it’s also found on many lists of the best WiFi channel scanners for iOS, so make sure to explore the mobile versions of NetSpot as well if you find the idea of using your smartphone to change channels on router interesting.

How to Change WiFi Channel?

Even the most basic routers allow you to change WiFi channel. Here’s a step-by-step guide that explains how to change your WiFi channel so that you can eliminate issues with signal interference and enjoy the best download and upload speed possible:

  1. Log in to your router’s admin interface. If you don’t know what your router’s IP address is, open a Command Prompt in Windows and type “ipconfig” without the quotes. Look for “Default Gateway” and copy & paste the address next to it into your browser’s URL bar.
IP address
  1. You should now see your router’s admin interface and a login prompt, and you need to enter the admin username and password. Unless you’ve changed the default administrator credentials to something more secure (which is always a good idea), “admin” should work both as the password and as the username. If it doesn’t, look for a sticker on your router or contact your internet service provider to help you.
Log in your web browser
  1. Next, tell your router to use the channel you’ve picked earlier. Each router is slightly different, but most routers hide the option to change WiFi channel somewhere in the advanced settings menu. If you can’t find it there, we recommend you open your router’s manual and see if it mentions how to do it.
Switch to a Different WiFi Channel
  1. Save the new WiFi channel settings and restart your router if asked to do so. You shouldn’t have to reconnect devices that are already connected to your WiFi network unless you’ve decided to change the network’s name or password as well.
Change the network’s name or password
  1. After you’ve changed the channel and restarted your router, launch NetSpot one and verify that your router is really broadcasting on the best channel.

Conclusion

Many WiFi issues are caused by the use of a wrong WiFi channel. When multiple networks broadcast on overlapping channels, interference may occur and make what would otherwise be a stable and reliable network unusable.

To prevent this from happening, use a WiFi channel analyzer such as NetSpot to identify the best WiFi channel in your area. NetSpot can also help you decide whether the time has come to replace your current router with a newer model, one that supports the latest WiFi standard.

FAQ

How do I change my WiFi router channel?

To change WiFi channel on your router, you need to log in to the router’s admin interface and go to wireless settings. Since most routers protect the admin interface with a password, you should attempt to find out what the password is before you start guessing.

If your router has a companion smartphone app, you can use it instead of accessing the admin interface directly via your web browser. Once you’re in the wireless settings section, look for an option called WiFi channel or WiFi band. To achieve optimal performance, use only channels 1, 6, and 11.

Does changing the channel improve WiFi?

Changing the WiFi channel can improve your WiFi performance, but only if you pick a less busy channel. If you don’t, your WiFi performance will likely only get worse. Wondering how to change your WiFi channel to the one that’s used the least? Well, the answer is simple: WiFi network analyzer. With it, you can scan the entire 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band and quickly see which channels are utilized the most and which are utilized the least.

Which channel is best for a WiFi router?

There’s no such thing as the best WiFi channel since all non-overlapping channels in the 2.4 GHz band (channels 1, 6, and 11) are capable of delivering the same performance and coverage under ideal circumstances.

The problem is that real-world circumstances are typically far from ideal, and some channels are used far more frequently than others. As such, the best channel for your WiFi router is typically the one that’s used the least, and you can find out which channel that is using a WiFi network analyzer app.

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Read next in All about Wi-Fi

If you want to dive deeper into this Wi-Fi thing, check out the following articles about Wi-Fi security, the best apps for wireless networking, inflight WiFi, etc.
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