UniFi Network - Optimizing Wireless Speeds

2023-06-09 08:12:01 UTC

Unlike many vendors that want to achieve maximum speed, UniFi’s default settings aim to optimize connection stability across all connected devices.

Check out our UniFi Expert's Corner video for a quick overview of wireless speeds. Follow these guidelines, and those in Optimizing Wired Network Speeds, to maximize your total network throughput.

Why are my speeds lower than they should be?

UniFi optimizes the default settings to maximize client compatibility and connection stability. If speed is your primary concern, the first thing you can do is increase your channel width settings, though you should be aware this may degrade connectivity in busy environments.

You should be aware, many users think that a speed test should return results equal to the internet package they purchase from their ISP. This is not true. Speeds are often expected to be significantly lower due to environmental considerations and client device specifications. Busy wireless environments will result in slower speeds, as will client devices that don't support the latest WiFi standards.

How Can I Increase Network Speed?

Increase Channel Widths

Increasing the channel width may increase maximum speeds, but it also introduces larger amounts of interference. Our default settings are:

  • 2.4GHz uses 20MHz widths
  • 5GHz uses 40MHz widths

Although many users will have success with increasing their 5GHz channel to 80MHz or 160MHz, we do not recommend increasing the 2.4GHz channel above 20MHz.

Expand AP Coverage

Wireless signal strength is affected by proximity to the AP in use. If your client devices are too far away from the nearest AP, consider moving the device closer or adding more APs to your environment to broaden coverage.

Each AP has its own specifications (such as WiFi standard or supported MIMO streams) that affect its maximum speeds. For optimal performance, we recommend our WiFi 6 access points.

For more details about U6 APs, please visit the UI Store, or review their respective datasheets.

Inspect Cabling and Device Connections

Sudden drops in speed are typically related to issues with the physical connection. This is especially true if you have 5GHz clients that have speeds under 100Mbps.

Make sure the cable connecting your AP to the network is not damaged. If you are unsure, replace it as a test. You can also try a different port if using a PoE switch.

Enable Key Default Settings in UniFi Network

Our default settings have been designed with optimum stability in mind. They should only be toggled off by advanced users who have a specific use-case. Be aware of the following settings and how they impact connectivity:

Nightly Channel Optimization

This allows your APs to select channels based on daily performance and interference trends. This automatically includes the following practices:

  • Only uses Channels 1, 6, or 11 on 2.4GHz
  • Ensures nearby APs are not on overlapping channels
  • Uses daily analytics to select the highest performing channels

This all happens in the background so you can enjoy the benefits without experiencing network interruptions.

Band Steering

This setting forces compatible devices to use the 5GHz band. Unlike the high-interference 2.4GHz band, 5GHz will offer reduced interference and improved performance.

Transmission (TX) Power

This determines the strength of a signal being sent out from an AP. A higher power enables the WiFi SSID to reach further and results in a higher signal strength for a client device. This is important because low signal strengths (less than -70dBm) will cause devices to disconnect. We recommend keeping this on Auto (High).

Other Considerations

Ensure That Your Clients Support the Latest WiFi Technology

Client specifications are just as important as your AP’s. A legacy client connected to the 2.4 GHz band using the WiFi 1 (802.11b) standard with 1x1 MIMO support will never be able to experience the benefits of your U6 Pro (e.g., 5 GHz WiFi 6 connectivity, 4x4 MU-MIMO and OFDMA functionality, etc.).

Remove Upstream Bottlenecks from Your Network

It is important to identify any bottlenecks throttling your speeds. For example, a wireless client will never achieve a 25 Mbps Netflix stream if it is limited by a 10 Mbps Internet connection or switch port / Ethernet connection upstream.

Minimize Meshed Network Usage

It is always preferable to hardwire APs to your network. Wirelessly meshing APs typically results in a ~50% throughput reduction per hop. If you prefer a meshed network, we recommend no more than two hops between a downstream AP and its first hardwired uplink.


Expedite Your Support Request

Prior to reaching out to support, we recommend gathering/verifying the following information. Including these details in your request will expedite your support experience.

  • What are your expected speeds?
  • How widespread is your throughput issue? Does it affect wired clients, wireless ones, both, or just certain devices?
  • What is your channel width? You can find this in your Global AP Settings, or by opening the device details panel of a specific AP.

Also, please include the following information, which can be found by selecting the affected device(s) on the Client Device page in your Network application.

  • Make and model
  • Band utilization (2.4 or 5GHz)
  • MIMO support (e.g., 1x1, 2x2)
  • WiFi standard (e.g., WiFi 5, WiFi 6)
  • Signal strength while experiencing reduced throughput
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