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What Factors Impact WLAN Speed?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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A WLAN is a Wireless Local Area Network — a network of one or more computers and related peripherals that is, or can be, wireless. A WLAN may combine both wired and wireless connections. Wireless networks are not as speedy as some users would like, and there are several factors that are known to affect WLAN speed.

One factor that affects WLAN speed is the wireless standard used by the network devices. The standard is called 802.11, but there are different versions available: 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n. 802.11n, the most recent standard, operates in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz range, has speeds from 108 Mbps (Megabits per second) to 600 Mbps, and is backward compatible with 802.11a, b, and g. 802.11g also operates at 2.4 GHz and has a speed of 54 Mbps. 802.11b operate in the 2.4 GHz band at 11 Mbps, while 802.11a operates in the 5 GHz range with a maximum data rate of 54 Mbps.

A WLAN is built around a wireless access point (AP), often a wireless router. The location of the router is another factor that affects WLAN speed. The best place for a router is at the center of the networked area and away from corners and exterior walls. It’s also important to keep the router’s firmware updated.

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If all the devices are connected to the router are capable of the same 802.11 standard, then the router should be set for that standard, rather than mixed-mode. This is because allowing earlier standards slows down the data. If all devices work on 802.11n standard, this will increase WLAN speed.

Routers come with one or more built-in antennas, but they are often inexpensive and not as good as they might be. They may or may not be made to be removed and upgraded. If they are removable, replacing them with an appropriate antenna for the network can increase WLAN speed.

If a 2.4 GHz network is being used for the WLAN, it is possible to speed it up by avoiding the devices that typically interfere with 2.4 GHz wireless transmissions. These include 2.4 GHz cordless phones, Bluetooth® adapters, baby monitors, and microwave devices. Cordless phones that will not interfere include those operating at 900 MHz, 1.9 GHz, and 5.8 GHz.

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