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I have just moved into a new Apartment and have had poor performance with 2.4GHz wireless and pretty much have given up on doing anything about it, but the part of my brain that wants answers isn't satisfied.

Here is where I would post a screenshot from inSSIDer, but can't, so I'll describe it. About 12 APs with a strength of about -85dBm. Very frequently at least one of them spikes to -50, and occasionally one may spike to -20 or better.

I've tried about 4 different wireless routers, and on every device get fairly consistently about 10Mbps down, while wired gives me my subscribed 50Mbps.

What I find interesting that while there are a fair amount of other wireless networks, it doesn't seem to be enough to cut my speed down to 10Mbps.

Also interesting is the frequent and intense spikes in signal strength from other APs. The APs that get the signal spikes don't appear to be consistent, I've seen just about each one get at least one "intense" (reading -20dBm or better) at some point or another.

Device, routers physical location, channel, and all other typical variables have been tested and have a negligible effect on download speed (as tested on speedtest.net).

Environment Details: I am in a corner, 2nd/top floor apartment. Within 500feet is the edge of housing development, a strip mall of about 5 businesses, and half of my apartment complex (2 or 3 dozen apartments).

Could someone be doing something illegal on 2.4Ghz that would cause so much interference?

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While this is a localized question, the question is well written and I feel that the OP has a problem that deserves to be addressed. –  DragonLord Feb 10 '13 at 22:45
    
Thanks @DragonLord –  andyjv Feb 15 '13 at 14:04
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1 Answer

Have you tried changing the channel your router is on. If you are leaving it on the stock channel and so is every one else with brand x router that is cause interference. Additionally make sure the router is off the floor and have the antennas extended.

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I've changed to the channel with the least interference (1), router has internal antenna and off the floor, but location to the router has no measurable effect on speed tests performed from my phone (which match the speed tests performed on the PC in a different room) –  andyjv Feb 10 '13 at 17:38
    
The room that your wireless router is in, does it share a wall with your neighbor? If so is that wall a kitchen wall where there are potential microwaves and cordless phones. I understand they wouldn't be running those appliances 24/7 but check the location vs what your neighbors may have in proximity. –  Ryan E Feb 11 '13 at 16:40
    
Router is in a room that is not adjacent to other apartments, and there are no appliances between myself and the router (though my position to the router gives maybe a 2Mbps variation) –  andyjv Feb 14 '13 at 14:36
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