How to avoid interference on wifi from neighbors' networks

What to do to prevent neighbors' wifi networks from interfering with ours by creating problems with the signal and reception?

WiFi interference If we live in a building or in an apartment building it is easy that the wireless connections of the various homes interfere with each other: obviously, since we are dealing with electromagnetic waves, we cannot completely keep them inside the walls of the house! The interference worsens the performance of the Wi-Fi network and decreases the maximum coverage, thus generating a problem shared by all condominiums or neighbors.
To limit these interferences we can adopt simple tricks, which can be set from the router configuration panel: we can thus significantly increase the speed at which we connect with the various devices and coverage.
In this guide we will show you how to avoid interference on Wi-Fi from neighbors' networks, so that you do not necessarily have to move to the countryside or the mountains to get full signal for the whole house.

How to avoid Wi-Fi interference

Most of the advice proposed below can be applied by accessing the modem / router settings provided by the operator or purchased later; if we don't know how to access the router settings, just read our guide first Enter the router to access the settings easily.

Change 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi channel

The first change that we advise you to apply involves changing the transmission channel of the Wi-Fi network, so as to avoid that it coincides with the channel of another network (or of multiple networks). This change is vital for the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network, the one that offers the most coverage and that is most affected by neighbors' networks.
To make this change we enter the router settings, we search for the menu advanced or unlock the advanced features (depending on the router model in our possession) then go to the menu Wifi, Radio channel or Advanced Wi-Fi settings.
Radio channel

We deactivate the automatic search for the best channel and we personally set the channels on which the Wi-Fi must transmit (or the two Wi-Fi networks, in case we have a dual-band router).
On the 2.4 GHz frequency there are 14 different wireless channels available, which though overlap each other. The Wi-Fi network channels are subsets of the available radio frequencies and can be imagined as pipes that are not isolated from each other, the flow of which is mixed with that of the neighboring tube. In the end the only channels not overlapping on the 2.5 GHz band are the most distant channels, that is 1, 6 and 11. These are therefore the only three channels used by all routers (especially those set up with automatic channel search), with the consequence that if we have more than three wireless networks around us, there is no way to avoid interference.
And also needless to choose a channel other than the 3 most used, because they are not too far away.
If channel 1 is used and our neighbor uses channel 2, interference from the adjacent channel is not well handled by the receivers. If, on the other hand, both networks use the same channel, the receivers have more ease of coordination and, even if both compete for part of the same spectrum (and band), sharing is certainly more efficient, with a speed that will not be the desired one, but with reliable operation.
In other words, when two networks are both on the same channel, traffic from each stops and waits for the other to pass in a coordinated way.

The matter changes slightly if we have a lot of wireless networks on channels 1, 6 and 11: in this case we choose the one as close as possible to the three indicated, so as to be able to compensate for the interference between all networks with a decidedly freer channel than the main ones (we have to use the other channels sparingly, since they generate even more interference!).

If we do not know which channel to choose, we can get help from some smartphone or PC apps, such as those indicated in the guide Compare WiFi Networks to Find the Best (Wifi Analyzers).

Decrease the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi signal strength

Another trick little used to avoid interference on Wi-Fi from neighbors' networks involves changing the electromagnetic signal strength of our Wi-Fi network, so that it coincides perfectly with the walls of our home and does not "fade" in the confines of the other networks.
Wi-Fi power

If our router allows you to set the transmission power, let's try to use a lower value (for example Middle or a percentage value lower than 100%) and check the speed with which we navigate to the point furthest from the router: with a little luck we will avoid many interferences and we will be able to navigate without even having to change the transmission channel.

Obviously this trick is effective only for small and medium-sized houses: in the case of very large or multi-storey apartments, we can avoid interference by expanding the coverage with Range Extenders, as seen in our guide How does the wifi repeater or "Range Extender" work and which one to buy.

Use the 5 GHz Wi-Fi network

The trick defined to avoid Wi-Fi interference involves using a dual band router that works on the 5 GHz wireless frequency. This frequency offers higher speeds with very limited coverage (2 rooms maximum) and is ideal for minimizing interference with nearby networks (we also consider that many more transmission channels are available on 5 GHz).
Wireless 5GHz

We enter the settings of our router again and try to activate this network (if any), setting a network name similar to the one already in use (for example we can add 5G to the network name) and the same password used so far for connections to 2.4GHz.
On compatible devices we always try to use 5 GHz where possible and, if we want to cover the whole house with this type of network, we can always rely on Wifi Mesh devices or dual band Range Extenders, as seen in the article on Best 5 GHz WiFi repeaters, to increase internet coverage.

More tips to avoid Wi-Fi interference

In addition to the tips and tricks seen above, we can avoid the interference of Wi-Fi networks by applying (where possible) the following tips:

  • Let's move microwaves, cordless phones and any other electronic device away from the router (at least 3 meters away); the same devices must also be spaced from fixed PCs and notebooks.
  • On 2.4 GHz networks we always try to use 802.11nthus avoiding 802.11 Mixed o antiquated protocols; on 5GHz networks we only use 802.11ac, avoiding mixed or older protocols.
  • We use devices a lot Powerline is Wi-Fi powerline for fixed devices such as PC, TV and console; to learn more we can read our guide Internet on the power outlet with the Powerline.
  • We orient the antennas of the router (where possible), pointing them as far as possible from each other (at an angle of 180 degrees).

With these little tricks we will have to be able to avoid interference on Wi-Fi even in the most populous neighborhoods or buildings.

Conclusions

With electromagnetic waves there are no miracles or ready-to-use solutions: we will have to personally test all the tips proposed above and look for the configuration suitable for our home and our network conditions, trying to apply the same suggestions to our neighbors (maybe by sending the link of this guide to the condominium administrator!).

To improve the coverage of our Wi-Fi network, please read our guides on how Have better coverage of the wifi router at home is Improve the wifi signal and avoid frequent disconnections.
If we notice a strong slowdown in the network, we can also rely on the advice expressed in our analysis What slows down the network speed (wifi or wired) and the internet connection.

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