Wireless Modes and Channels

WatchGuard AP wireless devices support two different wireless bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The band you select and the country you specify determine which wireless modes are available.

These wireless standards are supported:

  802.11n 802.11g 802.11b 802.11a
Frequency Band 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz 2.4GHz 5GHz
Data Rate 600Mbps 54Mbps 11Mbps 54Mbps
Channel Width 20 and 40MHz 20MHz 20MHz 20MHz
Indoor range 230 ft 125 ft 115 ft 115 ft

The 802.11n protocol is the latest wireless standard, and provides high data rates and performance in the 5 GHz frequency band. It is only supported in the most recent types of wireless devices.

For maximum performance, select only the 802.11n standard in the 5 GHz band. This selection requires that all the wireless devices on your network support the 802.11n standard. For most environments, you must support legacy wireless devices that do not support 802.11n. Because of this, WatchGuard recommends that you configure your WatchGuard AP device to use the default mixed mode 802.11b/g/n.

If you choose a wireless mode that supports more than one 802.11 standards, the overall performance can be considerably impacted. This is in part because of backward compatibility requirement when devices that use slower modes are connected. The slower devices often use more of the available throughput because it can take much longer to send or receive the same amount of data to devices that use a slower mode.

Wireless Channels

A wireless channel is a specific division of frequencies within a specific wireless band. For example, in the 2.4GHz band with a channel width of 20MHz, there are 14 defined channels spaced every 5MHz. Channels 12 and 13 are available in countries outside of North America. Channel 14 is for Japan only and is spaced at 12 MHz.

One wireless channel can overlap the frequency of another wireless channel. When you design and deploy wireless networks, you must consider which channels you use for your wireless network. For example, in the 2.4 GHz band, adjacent channels such as channel 3 and 4 have frequencies that closely overlap, which can cause interference. In the 2.4 GHz band, channels 1, 6, and 11 are the most commonly used channels. They do not overlap each other because of the space between their frequencies. The 2.4GHz band is crowded because many other devices that operate on this band (such as cordless phones, microwaves, monitors, and wireless headsets) also use the same channels, and can cause wireless congestion.

In the 5GHz band, the full channel width is reserved and there is a very large selection of channels that do not overlap. 802.11n also enables you to combine two 20MHz channels to form a 40MHz channel for increased bandwidth.

In some regions, DFS (Dynamic Frequency Selection) channels operate in the 5GHz band. Because DFS channels are used with radar, transmissions from your AP device stop if radar signals are detected on that channel. Use can disable the use of DFS channels in your AP device configuration.

For outdoor model AP102, you can configure the device to only use outdoor channels.

Channel Selection

The WatchGuard AP device is configured by default to automatically select a wireless channel. When you power on the WatchGuard AP device, it automatically scans the network and selects the wireless channel with the least amount of interference.

The default channel width is configured as 20/40MHz. This mixed mode sets the radio to use 40MHz channel width, but it also has additional transmission information, which enables it to be used in an environment that includes 802.11a/b/g wireless access points.

Use Wireless Deployment Maps to Find Channel Conflicts

You can use the Wireless Deployment Maps feature in the Gateway Wireless Controller to help you find wireless channel conflicts and optimize your wireless environment.

For more information on the wireless maps feature, see Use Gateway Wireless Controller Maps.

For more information on how to use the wireless maps feature to find and resolve channel conflicts, see View Wireless Deployment Maps.

See Also

Wireless Site Survey

Wireless Signal Strength and Noise Levels

Wireless Placement

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