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What is a WiFi Spectrum Analyzer?

In the world of wireless networks, a WiFi spectrum analyzer is a crucial tool for understanding and optimizing WiFi networks. It allows you to visualize the WiFi spectrum, optimize network performance, and troubleshoot wireless connectivity issues. After all, WiFi spectrum analysis is all about measuring the radio frequency (RF) energy in the environment so that you can see activity on the RF medium that may be impacting the performance of your WiFi network.

How does a WiFi Spectrum Analyzer work?

A WiFi spectrum analyzer is a wireless network testing device that is designed to simplify the job of network engineers by allowing them to capture and display visual representations of raw RF signals and thus make it easier to identify the root cause of both WiFi and non-WiFi interference problems. They do this by showing the strength of signals within a range of frequencies, indicating the level of interference or congestion that may be present.

Which devices may cause network disruptions?

The signals from several devices could cause network disruptions:

  • Other WiFi networks: Interference from neighboring WiFi networks working on the same frequencies can disrupt network performance, causing slow or intermittent connections.
  • Non-WiFi devices: Other wireless devices, such as cordless phones, microwave ovens, wireless video cameras, or Bluetooth headsets, can also interfere with your WiFi network.

How to use a WiFi Spectrum Analyzer?

Using a WiFi spectrum analyzer, such as the NXT-1000 Portable Spectrum Analyzer with the AirCheck™ G3 Pro, is relatively simple.

Follow these steps to run the test:

  1. Turn on the AirCheck G3 Pro.

  2. Plug in the NXT-1000 adapter in the USB port on top of the unit.

  3. Start the test by tapping on the Spectrum app option.
    • The test will run until you stop it, during which time the AirCheck G3 will display the amount of energy measured by the NXT-1000 throughout the WiFi spectrum.
    • At this time, you will have the option of changing the WiFi frequency range you want to analyze. By tapping on the settings icon you will be able to select between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
  4. Now use the spectrum views available to identify both WiFi or non-WiFi sources of energy impacting the performance of your WiFi network.
    • Three different view options will be available:
      • Spectrum Frequency
      • Waterfall
      • Real Time
    • To quickly identify the source of interfering signals, compare the shape of the signal on the Frequency Spectrum view to those here.
  5. After identifying the root cause of the interference, it is time to locate the interferer.

Find out where to buy a WiFi spectrum analyzer and add the tool to your tech arsenal, or request a free virtual demo to learn more.

How to find these interferers with the WiFi spectrum analyzer and what to do about them?

To locate the source of the interference, you just need to use the strength of the signals generated by the interferer. While walking around the site use the views provided to watch the signal strength of the interfering device as it is being measured by the spectrum analyzer. The closer you get to the device, the stronger the signal will be. Keep following the signal until it won’t grow any stronger to find the device.

As for what to do about the interferers, it depends on the source of the disruption. For example, if you identify that the interference is being caused by a neighboring wireless network, you can change your APs channel assignments to avoid the interference. If you identify a non-WiFi device causing problems, you can remove the device, move the device further away from your router, or change the channel being used by your APs to avoid the frequencies being used by the interfering device.

Why use a WiFi Spectrum Analyzer?

Now that you know how to use a WiFi spectrum analyzer, let’s talk about why you should use one. The biggest advantage of using an RF interference scanner is improved network performance. By identifying sources of interference or congestion, you can remove the source of the interference or make adjustments to your network settings that will help improve performance and minimize downtime. This can result in faster and more reliable connections, which is music to any network engineer’s ears!

Another advantage of a wireless analyzer that provides visibility into the RF spectrum is better troubleshooting capabilities. By quickly identifying the source of connectivity and performance issues, you can reduce disruptions to your organization’s operations. This helps you to quickly address any issues that arise, plus allows you to get your network back up and running as fast as possible.

Besides spectrum analysis, the NetAlly AirCheck G3 Pro includes the following features:

  • This wireless analyzer is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, making it easy for network engineers to use without any special training.

  • The AirCheck G3 Pro allows users to test, verify, and troubleshoot technology upgrades, WiFi 6/6E networks, and Bluetooth/BLE devices with advanced testing apps and purpose-built hardware.

  • It validates WiFi 6/6E network performance for critical services and key end devices, ensuring that network performance meets the necessary requirements.

  • The AirCheck G3 Pro enables remote engineers to troubleshoot and collaborate with on-site technicians through cloud remote control in Link-Live, making it easy to solve issues from a remote location.

  • It allows you to seamlessly consolidate and manage field test data, plus integrate with network management systems via Link-Live. This means that data can be easily shared, making it easier to manage network performance.

  • As a lightweight, handheld, ruggedized instrument, AirCheck G3 Pro is perfect for remote site validation and troubleshooting, eliminating the need to purchase multiple testers, or the need to carry a fragile laptop or tablet.

In summary, a WiFi spectrum analyzer is a very useful troubleshooting tool that can help you optimize your WiFi network’s performance. The benefits of a WiFi spectrum analyzer can be significant in terms of improved network speeds and end user experience.

Author Bio –
Product Manager – Wireless

Julio Petrovitch is a product manager at NetAlly, plus a certified CWNA/CWAP/CWDP/CWSP. He’s worked with network design, testing and validation for more than 15 years. Throughout he’s career he has had the opportunity to work with multiple networking technologies, including POTS, DSL, Copper/Fiber Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and BLE.