Understanding Wifi Interference For Better Fixes

Poor wifi signal leads to slow speeds and disconnects, but what causes low signal in the first place? Aside from being too far away from the wifi signal-generating device, there could be different types of interference getting in the way. He's a brief overview of signal interference, radio frequency theory, and how different wifi techniques are used to push through some of the interference problems.

Wifi Interference Basics

Following the standard interference definition, anything that gets in the way of the signal generator and the receiver is interference. That said, wireless internet technology has a few safeguards and best effort technology to get around some obstacles, so you need to know what interference affects existing standards.

In most countries, commercial products using wifi are governed by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standard 802.11. If you ever try for a professional certification, 802.11 is cited whenever speaking about wifi, as there are many different types of wireless communications in use and important to technicians.

The 802.11 standard for consumers is a listing of how for a signal can go, how fast data can travel across the wireless signal, and what the signal can penetrate. The current consumer 802.11 standard is 802.11ac, although many households and businesses still use the 802.11n standard.

Both standards are significant improvements over older 802.11 standards, as they can both pass through walls and reflect around certain permeable objects--including people--to get to their source without much of a speed or consistency problem. That said, the standards merely overcome some obstacles; the obstacles still affect the signal to a hopefully small degree, but the next section will explain what could be a problem and how to solve those problems.

How Interference Happens In Wifi

Wireless interference can pass through walls, furniture, and even people, but it doesn't pass through without some loss. The signal is simply strong enough and small enough to go through or around the problem, then rejoin as the data that the receiver needs.

Some people are confused about how signals could pass through, or concerned about what this human body. Keep in mind that signal can mean a lot of things, and wifi isn't the only signal that can pass through and go around inanimate object and animals. Sound does it, too.

If a person stands in front of a speaker, you can still hear the music if it's loud enough. Even at moderate volumes, you can still hear the sound if someone is blocking the view. Some of the signal goes around the person, while some of it goes through the person--albeit muffled and slightly slower. Some of the sound is absorbed or blocks and never makes it to your ears, which accounts for a lower volume, muffled volume, or distorted volume direction.

The same thing happens with any signal. The secret behind 802.11 is not simply increased power, but technology that sends a few confirmations to confirm that the data has been received. Wireless internet could be a lot faster than it actually is by decreasing those confirmation, and the balance between speed and signal quality is a constant tweaking of those confirmations.

Contact a wifi design professional, like one from Smartgrid Integrations Inc., to discuss your wireless design needs, as well as ways to get around the problem.