Wireless broadband v slow during peak hours; ethernet unaffected

By kElevrA
Mar 19, 2010
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  1. I am currently with Virgin Broadband in the UK which supply up to 50Mbps. During non-peak I get 50 Mbps through the ethernet and about 20Mbps on my laptop through a wireless connection to my router which is fine...

    The problem is that during peak times, I get a speed of less than 7/8Mbps through my wireless connection which I feel is unfair considering I am paying for up to 50Mbps. (A connection via ethernet only drops by 4-5 Mbps to 45Mbps).

    Should this be happening? I don't understand how the increase in demand during peak times should affect my ethernet and wireless connection differently. If anyone has a solution I would be very grateful.
  2. nazartp

    nazartp TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 202   +10

    Assuming that you run an encrypted wireless connection and changed the login and password for your router, just check how many wireless networks you can see in your connection manager during the peak hours vs normal hours. You may be just suffering from interference from the neighboring networks. In non-peak hours all of those routers around you are just broadcasting their network names, thus taking little bandwidth. In peak hour the information traffic between the routers and computers connected to them picks up and creates interference.

    If you see a lot of networks around, get some free software, such as Net Stumbler, that would allow you to see what channels those networks operate on and select an unoccupied (or less occupied) channel in your router.
  3. kElevrA

    kElevrA Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 21

    Thanks for the reply nazartp.

    However, I've already changed my network channel to an extreme and the problem still persists. Does your post mean that this should not actually be happening and I can call up my ISP and complain?

    EDIT: (And yes, I have encrypted my wireless connection)

    EDIT: That said, after changing my network channel, I can still see neighbouring networks. Should this be happening? Maybe I'm just doing it wrong. Do I have to change any settings on my computer or do I just adjust it via wireless settings through my browser?
  4. nazartp

    nazartp TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 202   +10

    Even after changing the channel you will always see other networks. You computer scans all channels supported by your network adapter and presents the list. Nothing wrong with that.

    Couple of things to check:

    - Do you have a unique network name?
    - Did you actually use any type of software to see the level of interference on each channel and selected the one with the lowest level of it? Changing the channel to some random position will not necessarily improve the performance.
    - How far is the router from the usual location of your laptop? Locating the router closer to you workspace will not "unjam" a channel, but will make signal to noise ratio much higher.
    - Also, apart from wireless networks you may be suffering from interference from cordless phones. If you are using the router operating on a 2.4 GHz frequency diapason, that may also be a factor.

    Some additional observations. I recently moved to a big apartment complex and after about three month of suffering poor connections mostly gave up on wireless as my main connection. I can see about 30(!) networks at any time and every conceivable channel is overloaded.

    Check on the things above and then bug your ISP - no harm in that.
  5. kElevrA

    kElevrA Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 21

    Yep, did like you said and got the software to find an unused channel. Those numbers were taken after doing speedtests when my laptop was positioned physically next to my router.

    The cordless phone point is interesting because I do have several in my house but I don't actually know if the phones operate on a 2.4GHz frequency. If that is the issue, I'm assuming I can't do anything about it apart from change my phones.

    Well I guess Ill be calling up my ISP. Thanks so much for your help.
  6. nazartp

    nazartp TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 202   +10

    Phones only create interference when they are in actual use, i.e., you are talking. It's likely that your neighbors have some cordless phones too.

    If, after you spoke to your ISP, the problem is unresolved, try looking for a dual-band wireless router. It uses another spectrum in addition to 2.4 GHz which is less congested (so far). Ultimately, it all depends on your budget and how far you want to go in resolving your connectivity issues. I just gave up and bought several over-the-powerline network adapters and wired most of my computers/rooms. The only stuff remaining wireless is the iPods and a small box in the kitchen which my wife uses to watch TV over the Internet.

    Sorry I couldn't be of more help...
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