Weak Connection on Wireless Router? Try Changing Channels

Recently, while visiting friends in Denmark, I had trouble connecting my new netbook PC through their wireless router to the Internet. My host informed me that lightning had wiped out their system and they had to buy a new router, which didn’t seem as powerful as the last one. The signal seemed weaker. When he tried to connect using his laptop two rooms away, the connection would go in and out.

Because this was a brand new router, I figured it was probably powerful enough. First, we moved the router to the desktop. (It had been below the desk, behind the system unit, and tangled up in a mess of cords.) That seemed to help a little, but my friend was still having trouble connecting from two rooms away.

Next, I changed channels. Wireless routers can send and receive signals over any of several channels or frequencies. Sometimes other devices in the vicinity (cordless phones, the neighbors’ wireless routers, etc.) can generate interference over one channel. Switching to a different channel or frequency can often solve the problem.

All routers are different, but they all have some way to switch channels. On this particular router, I ran my friend’s Web browser on the computer that had the most reliable connection to the router – the one that was connected to the router via a LAN cable.

Tip: If all of your computers are connected via wireless and you can’t get a reliable connection, buy or borrow a LAN cable to connect the computer to the router, so you can log into the router and change its settings.

After running the Web browser, I entered the address and then entered admin as the username and admin as the password. On my computer at home, I go to and enter admin as the username and password as the password. Check the documentation included with your router to obtain the login information or go online and search the manufacturer’s website for help on logging in.

I then pulled up the wireless settings, accessed the list of channels, and changed the channel from 11 to 3. This instantly corrected the problem. My friend could now use his laptop in any room in the house!

Experiment with different channels to find the channel/frequency that works best for you.

Tip: When you’re shopping for other wireless devices for your home (such as a cordless phone), try to steer clear of devices that use the 2.4GHz frequency. Instead, look for devices that use the 5.8GHz or 900MHz frequencies.

Meet the Author

Joe Kraynak

Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Computer Basics.

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