I’ve recently started having issues with my WiFi network, such as dropouts and slowness. One of the first steps I’ve taken to address the problem is to try to determine if I’m getting interference from other networks. To see nearby networks, and what channels they’re using, I’ve found WiFi Stumbler to be valuable.
WiFi Stumbler is a web app, in the form of a java applet. It works by scanning for nearby networks, and then listing their MAC address, radio type (B, G, N, etc.), channel, signal strength, manufacturer, and security used. As signals drift out of range, they are grayed out in the list.
Using WiFi Stumbler, I picked an unused channel for my network that had the least amount of interference based on number of connections, nearby busy channels, and signal strength from surrounding devices on those nearby channels. My WiFi connection is much better now, although I still have a few more tweaks to make.
As an aside, what surprised me the most about WiFi Stumbler, and perhaps taught me a bit about how WiFi signals travel, were the number of networks at home versus at my office. I live in a fairly rural neighborhood, with houses that aren’t too close together, yet WiFi Stumbler picked up a total of 17 networks. Two of those were unsecured, and three were using the insecure WEP standard. I work in a downtown area, and assumed that I’d pick up even more networks, yet WiFi Stumbler detected only four WiFi signals, one of which was unsecured and one which was using WEP.
So, color me curious. Head on over and try out WiFi Stumbler, and let us know in the comments how many networks you pick up, and how many are unsecured or using WEP.