Did you know that Mac OS X has a hidden utility that will scan surrounding WiFi networks and suggest a better/faster channel for you to use?
Neither did I, until tonight.
After a few months of really slow Internet, I finally decided to contact CenturyLink to see what was wrong. My latency rates were over 800ms and, while speed tests showed good and Hulu and such would usually stream just fine, actual usage (web page loading) was SLOW SLOW SLOW. Anything with packets back and forth (not one way streaming, I guess) was SLOW.
After hooking my MacBook directly to the Actiontec Q1000 modem and shutting of WiFi, I found I was indeed getting fast speed… I then searched to see what could be the problem, and found this article:
In it, it suggested the Wireless Diagnostics feature of Mac OS X. By holding down Option when you pull down the WiFi menu from the menu bar, you get more options:
This brings up a neat little utility which has a Utilities menu with some cool features.
From the Utilities menu, I found Scan to be particularly useful. It will look at all the WiFi access points around you and recommend what channel you should set your WiFi base station/modem to for fastest performance:
And, most surprisingly to me, there is a WiFi packet sniffer built in! Enjoy!
P.S. – By switching from the “Automatic” channel 6 to channel 2, my latency went from 850ms to under 150ms. Still not great, but much better and maybe as much as I can do without moving my wireless devices around or building a Faraday cage around my home. 🙂