Wifi signal suddenly weakened, I'm stumped.
July 22, 2016 11:35 PM   Subscribe

My internet wifi signal suddenly doesn't reach the far end of my house when it previously worked fine.

o I have internet through Cox in Irvine, Ca, and its the up to 100mps download speed which was working fine for the first month after installation. I live in a 2100 sq foot 1 story home and the router is on the very opposite end of the house from my bedroom. When the wifi was set up there are 2 different networks and they both worked fine. Now only the one labeled 5g works barely in my room and when I close the door it can't even connect. What is strange is that this change occurred suddenly, I've tried to reset the router but it doesn't help. I did a speedtest on my laptop next to where the router is in the living room (as mentioned before, that's about the furthermost point away from my bedroom in the house where I can't get a signal) and the speed is fine there, but obviously when I get far away to my bedroom on the opposite end of the house it doesn't even pick up either wifi signal. It's very strange that this suddenly stopped reaching that far, I'm wondering if anyone has any idea why this happened?

I'm not too computer savy but I'm assuming I need to either
1) move the router to the middle of the house
2) get a wifi extender and plug that into my room to help out the signal
3) call Cox to come back in and fix this since it shouldn't be this way since the house is only 2100 square feet.

Thanks to any replies in advance.
posted by HonestAsian to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Probably one of your neighbors just got a router and is using the same channel as you are. The best way to find out used to be InSSIDer, which used to be free, but now costs a bundle.

If you hunt around utility download sites, you might be able to find the old free version.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:49 PM on July 22, 2016

Just to be clear, in most areas these days there are loads of routers and they share the same channels. That's normal. But if someone living close to you just got a new router and is using the same channel, it will reduce the effective range for you both.

Just as an experiment, you could try changing the channel you yourself are using. Assuming you're using 2.4 GHZ, there are a bunch of channels but you should use either 1, 6, or 11.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:56 PM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I did a search for:

"InSSIDer 2.0" download

and came up with a bunch of hits, but I have no idea how trustworthy any of them are.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:59 PM on July 22, 2016

A good tool to use to diagnose wifi signal issues is iStumbler.

Look for another "SSID" (network name) that is using the same channel as your own network.

If there are two or more networks using the same channel, or radio frequency, there can be interference that causes problems with getting a strong connection.

If you see that another network is using the same channel, you can then use whatever software your wireless router offers to change that channel assignment to something else that is less likely to be in conflict.

At the very least, iStumbler will show you, in real time, how strong the wireless signal is wherever you are standing. As you carry your laptop throughout your house, you can see the signal strength change upwards and downwards. You might perhaps decide if you need to reposition your wireless router to a location more central to where you need access.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:56 AM on July 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yep, the fact that 2.4GHz is affected while 5GHz is not is a strong indicator that the issue is new interference from a neighbor's wifi. It's to be expected that the 5GHz signal would drop off sooner than the 2.4GHz and that it would fail when you close the door, the higher frequency is inherently more sensitive to the shielding effects of obstructions like walls and doors. If you have an Android device available, there is a free app called Wifi Analyzer that will show you neighboring signals and their channels.

It's also possible that your router can do its own check; usually the feature will be called "Site Survey," "Wi-Fi Survey," "RF Environment" or something along those lines and will be found in the Wireless section of the setup interface, or else in the diagnostics section.
posted by contraption at 1:04 AM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Good answers upthread re: co-channel interference. But, also be aware that there are gadgets that can interfere with your network besides other 802.11 network gear (and said other gadgets won't show up in an SSID scan). Examples include cordless phones, microwave ovens and (non-802.11) wireless security cameras.

You'd need something like the Wi-Spy spectrum analyzer to see and measure such interference directly. Easiest thing to do is try changing channels and see if things get better.

Also note that the "how many bars do you get?" indication on most client devices is based on RSS (received signal strength). That doesn't tell you anything about interference. If you can, look at the SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) instead.
posted by sourcequench at 6:12 AM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

A properly configured WiFi network, in my humble opinion, does not have separate networks for 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks - the networks should be the same name (SSID) and your devices should be smart enough to choose the better one and switch on the fly based on conditions. It sounds like your router is not configured that way which makes me sad. That's probably a Cox thing.

If you have a Mac, there's no need to buy or download anything: just option-click the WiFi icon in the menubar, choose 'Open Wireless Diagnostics'. From the 'Window' menu choose 'Scan.' You will get a list of all visible networks and channels and a suggestion for 'Best 2.4' and 'Best 5 GHz' channels.

If you have a Mac and want to engage 'expert mode' : spend $200 to buy the latest AirPort Extreme. Put your Cox modem into bridge mode and turn off it's WiFi entirely, and your life will be much better.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 6:49 PM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you have an Android device, there's a handy little app I found called "Wifi Analyser" that will let you figure out what channel your router is using, and if you see that that region is packed solid by surrounding wifi networks, you can change it for mad gains.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:50 PM on July 24, 2016

« Older I would like to live alone, but I also like money.   |   Poach me! Poach me! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.