Any wifi experts out there?

Here’s the situation:

We have AT&T DSL in our new house, as we did in our old one. We use a 2Wire modem/router combo, the one AT&T recommends. My computer’s connected to the router by Ethernet. My wife’s notebook uses wifi.

And ever since we moved in here, her download speeds have been poor–significant delays in page opens, long delays in downloading photos. We ran speed tests yesterday, and download speed was around 200Kbps, sometimes lower. (When I removed my ethernet connection, I was getting 160K–as compared to the 1.5-1.7Mbps I normally get. And that was a foot away from the router.)

So: Any ideas?

Other factors:

1. The house has a security system with some wireless transmitters…

2. There are other nearby wifi networks…

3. When I was running my treadmill–which has now gone back to Sears–it would knock out DSL after about a minute, due to interference. But the treadmill’s gone and DSL itself is just fine.

I’m wondering whether it would make sense to use the DSL/router combo as just a modem and plug in a separate router (with external antennas–2Wire hides its antenna or antenna inside the case)…


Update, July 8:

After some experimentation–e.g., enabling wifi on my own notebook (normally connected via Ethernet) resulted in download speeds of 50K-250K, still upload speed of 400-430K; eliminating a whole bunch of possible interference sources made no difference–and trying out 2Wire’s initial suggestions (AT&T was, shall we say, a whole lot less helpful than they’ve been in the past):

We decided to try the separate-router route, even though there’s no way to actually disable the wifi portion of the 2Wire Gateway. Picked up a D-Link N unit with 14-day return policy. Set it up, using the variation on its setup wizard encountered when it sees another router. Logged in on my notebook (which has “n” support); got 900K-1500K download speed. Set up my wife’s notebook (which doesn’t); after one false start, got 800K-1400K download speed (still 400-430K upload, to be sure). Reset the power level on the 2Wire to 1 (lowest possible setting) to minimize interference–but the D-Link’s autoscan already set it to a channel considerably away from the 2Wire’s channel (it apparently looks for the channel with the least traffic: When my wife checked, she found *six different wifi networks* with at least one bar of signal, three of them public and unsecured…)

So, for now, we’re in better shape. I’ll probably replace the 2Wire gateway with a straight ADSL modem, once I’m confident that I understand how the modem would set up with AT&T DSL. (If AT&T still offered email as a contact option, this would probably be simple…)

[Later that day: ADSL modem on order.]

4 Responses to “Any wifi experts out there?”

  1. Jeff Scott says:

    I have two suggestions that you probably already tried.

    Have you replaced any equipment to narrow the problem? (bad router, bad wire, bad port)

    Is there a problem with the service? (has att made any changes to your plan, done anything?)

    I use the same service, but haven’t experienced any problems so these suggestions probably aren’t helpful. I know when I had a different service and had problems, those two were the culprit. The cable service choked me for downloading podcasts on Itunes and the modem failed regularly.

  2. walt says:

    Hi Jeff,

    1. Not yet. So far, we suspect interference and are looking at possible sources.

    2. The DSL (that is, the modem) is fine–now that I got rid of the treadmill that was clearly, clearly knocking out the modem itself. Now it’s only the wifi–which should be many times as fast as the DSL service, not 1/8th as fast.

    If eliminating obvious possible sources of interference, changing wifi channels, etc. doesn’t help, I’ll look into turning off the wifi in the modem/router and adding a separate router, with visible/steerable antennas. (2Wire hides them in the little plastic cabinet…)

    Update: Eliminating possible sources of interference didn’t help. Apparently no way to turn off the wifi portion of the 2Wire Gateway. Sigh…

  3. Courtney says:

    look in the wireless instructions and start broadcasting on a different chanel. if there are other wireless networks around and everyone leavs theirs on default (4 i believe) it’s like trying to broadcast multiple signals on one radio station. try 2 or 6 (just for randomness)


  4. walt says:


    Tried that–first, actually. The default for 2Wire seems to be 6–but their website suggests using 2 or 10. But when I contacted them, they managed to reset it to 6.

    I’ve purchased a D-Link router, set it up, and set the power for the 2Wire to minimum (to try to avoid interference). So far, it seems to be helping. Long run? We shall see…