If your home is like ours, you’ve probably added Wi-Fi base stations in 2020. We’ve gone from four to six to improve coverage at home and cover areas we didn’t know existed until now. that children and adults are trying to participate in a class or a meeting. Zoom or Teams. And we have a little house.
It can sometimes seem like you’re dowsing when you walk around with an iPhone or MacBook to find Wi-Fi. Fortunately, there are better ways to do this, but they aren’t visible to the naked eye. A Mac laptop will give you the best information.
(You can install apps to measure Wi-Fi signal strength on an iPhone, but they’re usually not as useful as the ones hidden in macOS.)
Press the ‘Alt’ key and click on the ‘Wi-Fi’ menu in your menu bar. If you don’t see the Wi-Fi icon, in macOS 10.15 Catalina you will need to click on the “Control Center” and then on the “Wi-Fi” section while pressing the “Alt” key.
(If you wish, you can configure this menu to appear in the “Network” preference panel with your Wi-Fi adapter selected in the list on the left. Check or uncheck the “Show Wi-Fi status” box. Fi in the bar menu on the Mac ‘.)
The results may seem like a lot to you, but we’re only looking at a few things to understand the performance issues. Below I suggest how to improve your network.
You can move around the house in areas with potentially lower speeds or less coverage with the menu open (after pressing the ‘Alt’ key) and see if what is displayed changes to verify that it is not. not an anomaly.
Tasa Tx and Modo PHY
Almost at the end of this information, the Tx rate indicates the approximate data rate of the connection you have in the base station where your Mac is connected, as well as the protocol it is “negotiated”, listed as PHY mode. .
(PHY is the physical layer where data is transferred from side to side, either wired or wireless.)
Apple still does not use the new name of Wi-Fi, adopted a few years ago, which replaces the standard 802.11 system with a simpler name. The Wi-Fi Alliance certifies Wi-Fi devices and its simplified version is Wi-Fi 4 for 802.11n, Wi-Fi 5 for 802.11ac, and Wi-Fi 6 for 802.11ax.
You’ll find 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) on almost every Apple device in recent years and the fastest and most efficient 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) on all newer ones: iPhone 11 and 12, iPad Pro from 4th generation and later and all Macs with M1.
Wi-Fi delivers the fastest throughput your Mac and base station can match with the most efficient Wi-Fi version they are compatible with.
For example, in the MacBook Air with M1 specifications, Apple notes that it supports “802.11ax (6th gen) Wi-Fi wireless connection”, but is actually “compatible with 802.11 standards. IEEE a / b / g / n. / ac “.
Your base stations can only support Wi-Fi 5 (like I do), which is fast enough for home environments where you will need to use a lot of video conferencing apps and video services. diffusion como Netflix.
Above we have included a screenshot showing my iMac connected at 1.3 Gbps to a nearby base station. With quite a few base stations in the home, this should work as if you have an Ethernet between 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps, which means you’re probably more limited by your internet connection than your local network speeds.
However, if you see numbers like 54Mbps to 433Mbps or standards next to the PHY mode of 802.11a, 802.11g, or 802.11n, your place needs an upgrade. If the connection is null, you will need to install another base station.
You can also consult the “Channel” section for more information. In wireless communications, the term “channel” refers to a range of radio frequencies with a starting and ending point that your base station uses to communicate with devices.
The “width” of a channel determines, in part, the amount of data that can be sent. Performance is degraded by interference from other Wi-Fi devices, as the base station and connected devices try to “make themselves heard” in the face of so much noise.
Wi-Fi can be transferred and received on both the 2.4 GHz band (which has 11 overlapping channels) and the 5 GHz band (which has dozens). Most products sold by Apple, other computer and mobile manufacturers, and base station manufacturers include both bands.
A device, such as a Mac or iPhone, automatically chooses the strongest signal from one band or the other. A base station has two or more systems and transmits both bands simultaneously. Some routers very powerful were designed to have one 2.4 GHz band and two 5 GHz bands.
The 2.4 GHz band is congested for other purposes and many older Wi-Fi devices and has its limitations such as signal transmission strength. Overlapping channels also mean that base stations can “talk” in the highlights, reducing their power.
The 5 GHz band is mainly used for Wi-Fi and its channels have been cleaned so that they do not overlap. As a result, Wi-Fi networks can use more frequencies, which means faster speeds.
Wi-Fi standards 4, 5 and 6 allow dynamic channel widths: if there is enough “silence” around a channel, the base station will open and use a wider channel, thus improving its performance. performance.
In the “Channel” section of the Wi-Fi menu, macOS displays a channel number (such as 36 or 155) that you can ignore. This number was useful as you could tune your base station by selecting specific channels.
However, for years, base stations have automatically selected the best channels in each band for clearer transmission, and can even switch to another without having to intervene.
In parentheses you will also see something like “(5 GHz, 80 MHz)”. The “5 GHz” is good because it means your Mac is connected to the fastest band. “80 MHz” means that it uses four times the minimum channel bandwidth, which is 20 MHz. Therefore, the connection speed is 1300 Mbps.
The downside of 5 GHz is that, being a high frequency band, the signal travels shorter distances at the same power as 2.4 GHz. So your Mac may not be able to connect to your base station’s 5 GHz band but 2.4 GHz.
2.4 GHz connection means lower performance. If you constantly see 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz accompanied by 20 MHz or 40 MHz, rest assured that it could be much better.
Wi-Fi networks are automatically organized by name. Each base station with the same network name, encryption method, and password displays as a single entity on macOS, iOS, iPadOS, Android, and Windows, as well as game consoles and other devices.
In doing so, it allows devices to move around them. Your Mac or iPhone switches the connection from one base station to another when it thinks it can find a stronger signal there.
The only way to distinguish base stations of the same name is with the BSSID (Basic Service Set Identifier) code. This number looks like an Ethernet or Wi-Fi (Media Access Layer) MAC address: a unique number assigned to an adapter or an interface during its manufacture that allows it to be identified.
(Without a unique address, devices would not be able to redirect data to or from them over a network.)
It’s worth knowing your BSSID address in this case, as it lets you know which base station your Mac is connected to. As I said before, I now have six base stations at home.
One of them is a necessary device from our ISP, but we do not use their Wi-Fi; the other five form a network. We had two connected Ethernet inputs in our house before the pandemic, and we added two wireless amplifiers in 2020.
When trying to troubleshoot a problem, this BSSID is useful. In 2020, we changed the whole TP-LINK team, which has an app called Tether to manage everything. In your device list, I can see the BSSIDs of the five base stations I am using.
Because it is important? Sometimes in the kitchen I have experienced extremely poor Wi-Fi performance. (Sometimes I like to read the newspaper on my laptop on the counter!)
When checking the BSSID, I see that my iPhone is connected to a relatively far away base station, not the closest one. The reason is that sometimes the wireless amplifier loses its connection with the plugged-in base station, and sometimes Apple operating systems don’t always stop using a bad connection and find a better one.
Turning off and back on Wi-Fi often fixes the problem.
Improve weak points
Options to improve your Wi-Fi network:
- Add a wireless amplifier: These devices are open, connect to any base station plugged into your network, and often provide excellent performance.
- Add a wired access point: If you have a well-compliant wireframe, it will cost less to add a wired base station to improve coverage and performance.
- Access the Mesh network: Mesh network systems are designed to connect wirelessly to each other and give you feedback when you place the different base stations. You’ll get great performance and coverage, but they’re slightly more expensive than traditional Wi-Fi.
Original article published in igamesnews US.