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MM Answers: How do I improve my AirPort signal?

Sunday synonymous with Silvio Santos Program MM Answers!

The question of the day:

How to improve my AirPort signal?

AirPort Express, Extreme and Time Capsule

Although they have not received any updates from Ma since 2013, many people even though the price is currently high, with everything involving Apple still choose Ma's Wi-Fi solution.

Both AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule follow a white “rectangular cylinder” shape. They support the use of two simultaneous IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi bands (2.4GHz and 5GHz) with three Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, one USB 2.0 port (widely used for printer sharing, but also for hard drives). Gigabit Ethernet WAN port and the outlet for the power cord. Both can provide signal to up to 50 devices.

The difference between Extreme and Time Capsule is that the latter has a 2TB or 3TB HDD so you can automatically back up your Mac.


Already forgotten AirPort Express unlike the others, it has not been updated since mid 2012 is still stuck to the 802.11n standard (predecessor of "ac") and its USB port can be used only with printers. In a different way, we have AirPlay (for streaming of audio).

Difference between frequencies

Newer devices use two frequency bands (2.4GHz and 5GHz) and we often do not take advantage of this interesting feature. The 2.4GHz band finds a number of other devices that interfere with signal quality, such as microwaves, baby monitors, cordless phones, and even Bluetooth devices. There is also channel overlap, where the more Wi-Fi networks using near or equal channels, the greater the interference and quality loss. In contrast, the signal of this frequency (2.4GHz) is much stronger than crossing walls, floors, etc.

The frequency of 5GHz, in turn, does not overlap. In compensation, there is a significant difference in signal strength between the lowest and highest channels. To get an idea, the lower channels use only ~ 5% of power compared to the higher ones.

According to the country in which the device is used / purchased, due to the regulatory agencies (in the case of Brazil, Anatel), there are different channels available for the user to configure his router. Even if you don't use an AirPort, the tips below can help you set up your wireless router.

That is: if you are sitting next to your router, it makes more sense to use the 5GHz frequency; Now if you are in the room and the router is in the room, it is quite possible that the 2.4GHz frequency is the most suitable. The good thing about a router with simultaneous band support is that, in theory, your device can make this switch automatically, always choosing the frequency with the best performance.

Analyzing Your Environment

Wireless Network Diagnostic Icon

Mac has an unknown network diagnostics application called Wireless Network Diagnostics. To open the utility, follow the steps below:

  1. Quit any open apps;
  2. Press the key Option and click on the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar;

Menu Bar - Network Diagnostics

  1. Choose the "Open Wireless Network Diagnostics" option.

When opening the utility, we will use a hidden window of it to analyze your network environment. To open it, ignore the initial window that appears and click the "Analyze" option in the "Window" menu.

You will then see a list of available networks within range of your device with range, noise, channels used, and protocol / bands information.

The received signal strength indication (RSSI) is better if the value is greater then -35 better than -45. Noise is the opposite of the signal, after all, as best as little noise as possible. Thus, the greater the difference between RSSI and noise, the better your network environment.

After a few seconds, a list of wireless networks Mac finds, including yours, will appear in the same window. And most interesting in the left corner is a list of the best channels on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies.


Setting Up Your AirPort

If you have automatic configuration and are not satisfied with your network speed or connection loss at some points in the house, you can manually set the channel for each network protocol by following these steps:

  1. Open AirPort Utility (located in the / Applications / Utilities / folder);
  2. Select your base station and click To edit;
  3. Select the "Wireless" tab and click "Wireless Connection Options";

Configuring AirPort Utility

  1. In the “5GHz Channel”, select 149 or higher;
  2. Click "Save" and then "Update." Now wait for your base station to restart for the changes to take effect.

Now check the status your network by following the step above again (the “Analyze” Wireless Network Diagnostics). If the numbers are more in line with the desired, then your choices (channels) have been successful. 😉

The method described above uses only OS X tools. However, if you want, there are some apps that help you with diagnosing a problem on your network. Some examples below:

WiFi Signal: Status Monitor app icon

WiFi Explorer app icon

NetSpot Home app icon

NetSpot PRO - Wi-Fi Reporter app icon

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If you searched for an answer MM Frum and did not find or if you simply have any suggestions for the MM Answers (we'll select one at a time), just email me (marcelo at our domain) or talk to me on twitter (@marcelodemelo).

See you next time! 😉