Last weekend I found myself setting up our home network from scratch, after my ISP router died and the replacement point blank refused to load my configuration backup. Nevertheless, I used this as an opportunity to try and improve the coverage and speeds throughout our home. A common quick win is to set the channels of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands as far away from neighbouring routers as possible, as this lowers both interference and noise.
There’s a breadth of tools available for desktop platforms, but not so on iOS. Restrictions put in place by Apple make it nigh impossible for developers to publish apps that can scan and display the network channels from broadcast SSID’s.
But it’s not impossible to get this information.
From the iOS App Store go and grab Apple’s AirPort Utility, but before you fire it up for the first time you’ll need to make a trip into the iOS Settings app. Go to Settings > AirPort Utility and enable the Wi-Fi Scanner option. Now when you open the Airport Utility app, an additional Wi-Fi Scan option will appear in the top right. Give this a tap and kick off a scan. This won’t take long.
For every network it can discover it’ll display the SSID, router MAC address, noise and, most importantly here, the channel. Better still, tapping the little information icon in the bottom right will summarise all of the channels in use, so you can quickly make a decision as to the best channel for your networks. Here are my results from a scan I ran just last night:
I honestly didn’t think this feature of AirPort Utility was well documented, so I’m hoping this write up will help other people to discover it.