Wifi reception, and changing wifi channels on a Mac


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So my house wifi went down, and while we're waiting for it to be repaired, we're using our neighbor's wifi. I'm slightly astonished, because my 2011 MPB picks it up with full bars, while my new 2020 M1 iMac, sitting right next to it, can BARELY connect, with just about one bar, and frequently loses connection.

As far as I can tell, the reason is that my MBP has decided to connect on channel 1 of 2.4 GHz, and the iMac has decided to connect on channel 40 of 5 GHz.

How does one change the wifi channel that the Mac uses? As noted, I don't have control of the router.

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Sigh. After a day, the iMac has decided (all by itself) to switch to channel 1 of 2.4 GHz, and the reception on it is still crap. The RSSI is the same on both machines, so one machine is evidently a lot less sensitive. How do I improve the wifi reception on a new iMac???
 
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Cory Cooper

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Hi,

You change the broadcast channel on the Wi-Fi router itself, as devices will automatically connect to the strongest signal. A 2.4 GHz signal will reach farther, but 5 GHz will have faster throughput. Distance and throughput are also affected by which 802.11 protocol (b/a/g/n/ac/ax), channel width 20/40/80 MHz, MIMO/MU-MIMO output (2x2/3x3/4x4), and radio transmit power (dBm).

What brand/model is your router?

C
 
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Well, what I have learned is that in the modern generation, routers provide both 2.4 and 5 GHz channels, but generally do not allow those two to be labelled as separate networks. You get ONE network. Also, Macs allow you to choose which network you want to use (as in, from different routers), but not which frequency or channel. The Macs are smart enough to make the decision of which frequency/channel has the highest S/N and the least congestion.

In the olden days, that decision was up to the user. That's true about the relative advantages and disadvantages of 2.4 versus 5 GHz, but the user doesn't get to use those to make the decision about which to use.

I just upgraded to Google Fiber, which is great, and at least with the mesh system, they don't allow you to do much of anything yourself.
 

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