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Clearing up wireless interference problems

Last reviewed: March 2010

Many wireless products, such as cordless phones, home networks, Bluetooth devices, and baby monitors, share the 2.4-gigahertz (GHz) radio frequency bands. As a result, they're likely to interfere with each other. Interference can cause static on a cordless phone, a baby monitor, or wireless speakers; it can disrupt a wireless computer network or the video on a home security or baby monitor.

Here's what you need to know to minimize interference in your household:

Make sure you can return the product

Before you buy a wireless product, be certain the store will let you exchange it, just in case you can't get rid of interference problems.

Choose a cordless phone that uses the 5.8-GHz, 1.9-GHz, or 900-megahertz (MHz) band

These frequency bands are not as widely used as 2.4-GHz and, therefore, are less likely to cause or receive interference. If you want a multiple-handset-capable cordless phone with handset-conferencing capability, choose one that uses only the 5.8-GHz or 1.9 GHz band. By contrast, nearly all phones using 2.4-GHz digital spread spectrum (DSS) technology and those that allow handset conferencing may create interference in other products, some even in standby mode. Be aware that some cordless phones billed as 5.8-GHz actually use both the 5.8-GHz and 2.4-GHz bands. DSS phones billed as "wireless network friendly" or "802.11-friendly" are unlikely to interfere with wireless computer networks, but they may interfere with other wireless devices. Keep a 2.4-GHz analog phone out of the kitchen, if possible. It can pick up interference from a microwave oven that's running.

Change the channel

Most wireless products allow you to change their channels to solve interference problems. Cordless phones, baby monitors, and wireless speakers make this as easy as pushing a button or sliding a switch. Changing channels on a wireless router requires using your computer. Avoid the router's uppermost and lowest channels if you have a 2.4-GHz analog phone.

Keep your distance

If channel changes don't work and product replacement is not an immediate option, try keeping the conflicting wireless devices as far away from each other as possible, such as in different rooms.