If you live in an apartment complex, you’ve probably noticed more than just the passive-aggressive network IDs that your neighbors use—very likely you’ve had problems with your wireless connections dropping out, or just not being as fast as you’d like. This often has to do with the Wi-Fi channels in your area.
If your wireless router is on the same Wi-Fi channel as a lot of your neighbors, you’ll experience a lot of interference with their networks—so it’s best to choose a different channel with fewer people on it. When you do, you’ll reduce that interference and improve your Wi-Fi signal.
The first step, though, is finding out which channel is least congested in your area. These tools will help you identify which nearby networks are using which channels.
Note that Wi-Fi channels overlap with nearby channels. Channels 1, 6, and 11 are the most frequently used for 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, and these three are the only ones that don’t overlap with each other.
If you want to search for Wi-Fi channels on your phone instead of your PC, the easiest-to-use application we’ve found is Wifi Analyzer on Android. Just install the free app from Google Play and launch it. You’ll see an overview of the wireless networks in your area and which channels they’re using.
Tap the View menu and select Channel rating. The app will display a list of Wi-Fi channels and a star rating — the one with the most stars in the best. The app will actually tell you which Wi-Fi channels are better for your Wi-Fi network, so you can go straight to your router’s web interface and choose the ideal one.