Home > Electronics, PC Software > Identify Busy Wi-Fi Channels in Windows 7

Identify Busy Wi-Fi Channels in Windows 7

When several wireless networks and other wireless devices operate at the same frequency, there can be a significant amount of noise and crosstalk that result in lost packets and network disconnections. To identify channels with larger numbers of networks and higher signal strengths, there are several programs available to display this information in a graphical interface such as:

  1. Vistumbler
  2. WirelessNetView
  3. inSSIDer

It is also noteworthy that the wireless channel bandwidths overlap, since channels are 5 MHz apart and the bandwidth of each channel is 22 MHz. To avoid overlap, channels 1, 6, and 11 are used most often.

802.11 b/g Wi-Fi Channel Bandwidth Overlap

Often times it is desirable to perform this task quickly without installing new software. The wireless channel and signal strength of nearby wireless networks can be displayed in Windows 7 or Vista by entering the following command in the command line:

netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid

This results in the following command line output:

Interface Name : Wireless WUSB600N
There are 5 networks currently visible.

SSID 1 : 2mix
Network type            : Infrastructure
Authentication          : WPA-Personal
Encryption              : CCMP
BSSID 1                 : 00:22:6b:73:aa:5a
Signal             : 100%
Radio Type         : 802.11g
Channel            : 1
Basic Rates (Mbps) : 1 2 5.5 11
Other Rates (Mbps) : 6 9 12 18 24 36 48 54

SSID 2 : BELL078
  Network type            : Infrastructure
  Authentication          : Open
  Encryption              : WEP
  BSSID 1                 : 00:26:50:34:1e:51
       Signal             : 36%
       Radio Type         : 802.11g
       Channel            : 1
       Basic Rates (Mbps) : 1 2 5.5 11
       Other Rates (Mbps) : 6 9 12 18 24 36 48 54

SSID 3 : linksys
    Network type            : Infrastructure
    Authentication          : Open
    Encryption              : None
    BSSID 1                 : 00:18:f8:ef:93:af
Signal             : 32%
Radio Type         : 802.11g
Channel            : 6
Basic Rates (Mbps) : 1 2 5.5 11
Other Rates (Mbps) : 6 9 12 18 24 36 48 54

SSID 4 : Killa
    Network type            : Infrastructure
    Authentication          : WPA2-Personal
    Encryption              : CCMP
    BSSID 1                 : 00:1c:df:39:81:f6
Signal             : 16%
Radio Type         : 802.11g
Channel            : 11
Basic Rates (Mbps) : 1 2 5.5 11
Other Rates (Mbps) : 6 9 12 18 24 36 48 54

SSID 5 : 5mix
    Network type            : Infrastructure
    Authentication          : WPA2-Personal
    Encryption              : CCMP
    BSSID 1                 : 00:22:6b:73:aa:5b
Signal             : 100%
Radio Type         : 802.11a
Channel            : 149
Basic Rates (Mbps) : 6 12 24
Other Rates (Mbps) : 9 18 36 48 54

Open Source Router Firmware

If you are able to use open source firmware on your router, it is also helpful to use the Tomato firmware to perform a wireles survey. The device web page gives a detailed report like the one below:

Tomato Wireless Survey

Tomato Wireless Survey

References

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Categories: Electronics, PC Software
  1. Susan Rouse
    May 23, 2011 at 10:54 am | #1

    Do you have, or know of, similar software which runs on an Apple Mac?
    Many thanks.

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