Which Channels Can I Use On The 2.4GHz Band for Wi-Fi Networks?

2-4ghzThere is often confusion around which channels may be used when deploying a Wi-Fi network using the 2.4GHz band.

Depending on where you are in the world, the band generally has either 11 channels (numbered 1 to 11) or 13 channels (numbered 1–13) available to use.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just using any channel that you might feel inclined to use. In short, the convention is generally to use channels 1, 6 and 11.

Why not the intervening channels (you may ask)?

The 11 (or 13) channels available on the 2.4GHz band are each 5Mhz apart. Wi-Fi communications requires a channel width of 22MHz to operate (the equivalent of 5 channels). We cannot use channels that are adjacent to each other, as we would get an effect called “adjacent channel interference”. This is a very bad thing in Wi-Fi networking, leading to very poor network performance.

You may have heard that is best for your network to use its own dedicated channel, which is true (when feasible). But if you find that neighboring Wi-Fi networks are already using channels 1,6 & 11, do not be tempted to try to use intervening channels for your network (e.g. 2, 7, 12). Co-existence on the same channels as nearby networks is better than trying to use other channels.

The generally accepted convention is to use channels 1, 6 and 11. I strongly advise that you stick to the same convention.

(Side note: You really should be leveraging the 5GHz band as far as possible for Wi-Fi networks — 2.4GHz is generally not a good choice in many instances in terms of Wi-Fi network performance)

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