Help me choose a 5.8Ghz cordless phone
September 7, 2004 1:47 PM   Subscribe

I just discovered that my vtech 2.4Ghz cordless phone is messing up my wireless g network, knocking my powerbook offline whenever I take a call. I'd like to move to a 5.8Ghz setup if it will prevent this, but there are a zillion options. Which would you pick and did it play nice with your network? [details inside]

So my network at home is a linksys wireless 802.11g unit (their popular model w54g or something like that), and the phone only affects my new powerbook with an airport extreme card. My PC desktop is also on the wireless but works fine during phone calls. I have to participate in conf. calls pretty often, and being able to discuss stuff online is important during those calls.

So if 5.8Ghz will solve my problems, I'm all for it. I've looked around amazon, but the 5.8Ghz vtech phones seem to be some sort of hybrid 2.4/5.8 that can still suffer from 802.11 interference. The other brands offer a great deal of crazy stuff.

My ideal wireless phone setup would be one with a no-frills base that doesn't have an answering machine (doesn't need intercom/multiline stuff either), it'd be nice if there was caller id on the handset, and if I could daisy chain another cordless phone downstairs, that'd be just perfect. Vtech has those kinds of phones, but without the true 5.8 spectrum. Anyone here have a similar setup at home that plays well with their wireless?
posted by mathowie to Technology (12 answers total)
Try a 900MHz phone. They're getting a little harder to find, but they are cheap and may offer better range than you are getting with your 2.4GHz device. They certainly won't interfere with a wireless network at all.

That said, I haven't had all that much trouble with a VTech 2.4 and the wireless network, and base stations for both devices are in the same room.
posted by majick at 2:01 PM on September 7, 2004

I recently helped my parents buy a new 5.8 GHz phone. It's an AT&T 5840, 200 bucks with the extra handset, and doesn't seem to interfere with their hybrid wireless setup at all. (My dad has a Mac, my mom has a PC.) That model includes an answering machine, so it probably isn't what you need, but the point is that the 5.8 GHz phone doesn't seem to bother my dad's Airport card. :) They *do* have a 2.4 GHz Vtech setup with the extra handset as well, but those are not used near their wireless setup, so there hasn't been any noticeable interference.
posted by xyzzy at 2:09 PM on September 7, 2004

I had the same problem -- I tried a 2.4GHz phone, but had interference with wifi. I tried the AT&T 5.8GHz and really liked it, but it's 2.4GHz one direction, 5.8GHz the other, so we had problems with that one as well.
After trying a Vtech and something else cheap(I think SW bell?) I gave up.
I was looking at the multi-handset Panasonic, but too expensive for, essentially, a phone.

I decided to buy two new rechargeable batteries for my old 900 MHz, and I ended up a lot happier (even though I didn't get all the functions I wanted). So, I have to second the 900 MHz option offered by majick.
posted by j at 2:11 PM on September 7, 2004

Though you may be sold on a new cordless setup, that router does broadcast on different channels and frequencies. Have you tried adjusting the router broadcast settings?
posted by jazzkat11 at 2:12 PM on September 7, 2004

we had a 900mhz phone and it picked up interference from the (belkin 802.11g) hub. switching to a 2.4ghz gec phone fixed things. sorry this contradicts others, but maybe it means you need to try before buying, somehow?
posted by andrew cooke at 2:19 PM on September 7, 2004

I had that problem, too.

I bought this.

I have that problem no longer.
posted by adampsyche at 2:58 PM on September 7, 2004


Just the obvious:

Have you tried moving the channel on the linksys and the channel on the phone?
posted by filmgeek at 3:07 PM on September 7, 2004

Higher frequency = less penetration = phone might not work so very well through walls.

Higher frequency = greater health risks.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:13 PM on September 7, 2004

Last I heard the VTech 5.8 GHz phones were all 5.8 GHz one way but still 2.4 GHz the other. (This includes phones manufactured by VTech but relabeled -- which may include the AT&T ones.) Uniden's 5.8 GHz phones are 5.8 GHz both ways. I have a friend who has a set of these and likes them fine.

That said, I have a set of the Panasonic MultiTalk 2.4 GHz phones, and they do not interfere with wireless networking because they are FHSS (frequency-hopping spread spectrum), not DSSS (direct-sequence spread spectrum). Your wireless network will notice a little more noise when you're on the phone, which may reduce the available range slightly, but it'll still work.
posted by kindall at 4:01 PM on September 7, 2004

Higher frequency = greater health risks.

I don't buy it. Where do you get this from?
posted by tss at 10:37 PM on September 7, 2004

I second changing the wi-fi channel, I fixed this problem in two different homes by doing so.
posted by ascullion at 11:40 PM on September 7, 2004

2.45GHz = microwave.

You'll note the owners' manual for the phone includes a warning that the manufacturer takes no responsibility for any health consequences of using their product. There's a good chance they mention cancer specifically.

There are concerns that higher-frequency wireless may have ill health effects. I am not aware of any studies that conclusively demonstrate causation.

It's merely something to be aware of. If you habitually spend hours on the phone, you are likely better off with a 900MHz phone. If you use the phone as infrequently as I do, you could probably be okay with xray-frequency technology.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:21 AM on September 8, 2004

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