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I have 2 WLAN accesspoints, one on each floor. They are both connected via LAN cable (not a wireless bridge). The overlap of the signal is 100%, but the signal strenght across floors is much weaker than the signal of the AP on the same floor. I want my laptop/cellphone/tablet to automatically chose the faster one wherever I am.

What is the best setup in terms of SSID and channel so that the faster one is chosen? Do devices normally only connect to the faster one if the slower one is completely unavailable?

Do I chose the same SSID? The same channel? Or else? I currently have 2 different SSID and channels so I can know which one I am connected to and to do it manually.

What is best practice here? Is it possible to get the faster speed without manually reconnecting? With two different SSIDs this does not seem to work. I have to switch manually every time I change floor.

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2 Answers 2

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Welcome to the incessant pain of WiFi implementation issues :-).

As you've correctly stated, it is up to the clients to choose which WiFi to connect to. They typically won't know which is the slower/faster one, they will just know which is the stronger/weaker signal. Stronger/Weaker can (but not necessarily) translate to slower/faster as if the signal is too weak it will have to keep retrying to send the data but all signal being equal it is down to congestion of the airwaves that has the biggest impact.

Android has bugs that mean it typically does not switch to the strongest signal (see this question). Some manufacturers have added this functionality into their devices (I believe Samsung devices have something within the WiFi options).

Windows often leaves it to the driver of the wireless card to decide, have a look at the advanced settings for it in device manager and you may find various settings to tweak (such as roaming "aggressiveness" and "band preference" for 2.4/5Ghz).

Most WiFi now runs on either 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz spectrum. Most of the 2.4Ghz spectrum is crowded (and 5Ghz signals don't carry as far as 2.4Ghz, so you're unlikely to see your neighbour's 5Ghz WiFi network). So a lot of people set their 5Ghz WiFi network name to include "5Ghz" and either don't teach their device to connect to the other network or they manually switch it if they spot it's connected to the crowded one.

As for channels, you should install something like inSSIDer (for Windows) or WiFi Analyzer for Android to work out what other WiFi networks are on what channels in your area and pick the least congested channels. You should share the least crowded channel without having bits of other networks bleeding into your channel (co-channel vs overlap). You also don't want to ideally have both of your APs on the same channels.

You specify a single channel number but the WiFi will actually bleed into other channels (it looks more like a dome across 3 channels on most analyzers).

Android also has a experimental feature under Developer Options for "Always allow Wi-Fi Roam Scans" which forces it to go looking for a stronger signal, but with the side effect that it will ditch an existing connection mid-transfer if it finds a better one.

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I use the same SSID and different channels. My devices usually switch to the best connection automatically.

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That is correct. Same SSID, same encryption parameters, different channels. – David Schwartz Dec 1 '14 at 11:29

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