Last year, I wrote a product review on the RF Link AVS-5811, and why it was one of the best products currently on the market for wireless transmission of stereo audio and composite video. The full review can be found here. The reason that the RF Link products work so well is due to the fact that they operate within the 5.8 GHz spectrum, as opposed to the 2.4 GHz or 900 MHz frequencies. The latter two frequencies are often very crowded due to the plethora of wireless devices currently on the market and as a result they tend to conflict with one another.
When two or more devices are operating on the same frequency, they tend to cancel one another out. For example, if security cameras and a wireless network are both operating at 2.4 GHz, neither will function properly as there is not enough bandwidth in the spectrum to properly support both devices. This is where wireless becomes a little tricky to explain.
Within a frequency such as 2.4 GHz, there is a specific amount of bandwidth allocated by the federal government for transmission. In the United States, starting at 2.4 GHz, there is approximately 80 MHz over 11 channels allocated for the transmission of data. Devices that broadcast in the 2.4 GHz spectrum include WiFi (802.11 b/g), wireless USB, Zigbee, Bluetooth, security cameras, cordless phones, baby monitors, microwave ovens, and wireless keyboards and mice.
Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to crowding on a specific frequency. The best course of action if your frequency is polluted is to migrate your wireless devices to a different frequency. If your wireless network is not working properly because there are many other wireless LAN’s in your area, consider changing your frequency from 2.4 GHz to 5.0 GHz (To accomplish this, you would have to change your WiFi from 802.11b/g to 802.11a/n). The same solution applies to cordless telephones and wireless audio/video transmitters.
Even on the higher frequency range, it is still possible to encounter some interference. Due to the fact that the 5.0 GHz range is not as common, there is much less frequency pollution. However, due to the proximity of some devices there may be some small issues that occur. For example, when using a wireless audio video transmitter at 5.8 GHz such as the RF Link AVS-5811, if you are using a 5.8 GHz cordless phone within the vicinity of either the transmitter or receiver, you will notice static lines on your television.
Many people often want to use wireless when they are planning out their home theater. No wires to be run and a very simple setup make wireless an attractive option. However, due to the unpredictability of how the technology will work in your area, it is something that I discourage. Further to that, with everything now transitioning to high definition, significant stress will be placed on the wireless network stream to perform flawlessly.
To borrow a term from Mike English, with respect to home theater, the rub is that wired always functions better than wireless. It is less convenient, but significantly more robust. It is also virtually guaranteed not to fail while you are watching the Super Bowl in high definition.
Tips To Make Wireless Work
Wireless interference can shut down your connection completely, or in a best case scenario slow the traffic down to a crawl. Below are a few tips that you can use to make a flaky wireless network function more reliably.
802.11b/g devices have three channels that do not interfere with each other, and because many consumers use the default configuration for their devices, problems inevitably occur. Channels 1, 6, and 11 do not interfere with each other, so try and use one of these. The default channel for most wireless networks is 6.
While more and more devices are heading to 5.0 GHz band, it is currently a preferred frequency to its 2.4 GHz counterpart due to the fact that there are more channels within this spectrum that do not overlap. You will have to change your wireless from 802.11b/g to 802.11a; however you will have 23 channels that do not overlap at 5.0 GHz, as opposed to three channels at 2.4 GHz.
Upgrade to 802.11n
802.11n is the latest proposed specification to wireless. While it is not expected to be officially ratified and implemented until June 2009, many manufacturers have introduced devices based on the beta specifications, as they do not expect them to change much, if at all. The major advantage of the 802.11n specification is that it can handle interference better over long distances, due to the fact that 802.11n access points have multiple antennas.