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It seems that my apartment is in the middle of a sea of routers. There are 34 that I can see right now. The median channel is 6, but the mode, by far, is channel 11 (14 routers are on channel 11) followed by channel 6 (9 routers are on channel 9).

My router only ever reports up to around 60% signal strength, followed closely by another router at 50%.

I'm broadcasting on channel 11 right now, and the router with the 2nd strongest signal strength is running on channel 6. Sometimes a different router is 2nd place, also running on channel 11.

My question is: Is there really something I can do about this? I've tried many things:

  • Switching to another channel. Trust me, I've tried every channel (yeah, even though a lot of them overlap), for a day each. Some are worse than others, which is why I settled on channel 11, but my signal still drops.

  • I've tried changing routers. I'm using a MediaLink router right now. I used to use a WRT54GL, but one dropped more often than my MediaLink.

  • I tried an amplifier, but it didn't help.

  • I tried a repeater, still nothing.

Does anyone know whether a dual-band router will matter? How do I check whether my MacBook Pro will support the extra channels?

I might just be in a terrible wifi situation, but I'd love to hear any creative advice!

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Yes, a dual band router can help, provided all your devices use the 5 GHz frequency.

If you purchase a dual band router (e.g. TP-Link WDR4300), all 5 GHz devices should benefit from the change. However, devices still on the 2.4 GHz band will still suffer from the same problems you are experiencing.

Also check that the router is able to transmit 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz simultaneously, otherwise you may be "locked" to the 2.4 GHz band when a 2.4 GHz only device joins the network. Currently the 5 GHz band is not widely adopted and there is less chance of your problem happening again in the future as it has a significantly greater number of channels.

In the meantime you can use inSSIDer or any other wifi spectrum analyzer to find the best channel to use until you obtain a 5 GHz router.

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