Bluetooth Interference With WiFi

How To Stop Bluetooth Interference With Wi-Fi?

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are two popular means of wireless communication that are primarily operating in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz ISM Frequency Band (Industrial, Scientific, and Medical). The main challenge to using these two technologies simultaneously is interference between them. Along with these two, any other technologies that are operating in the same 2.4 GHz range (such as Microwave Ovens, and cordless phones) are prone to interference from each other when they operate in close proximity. In this guide, we will see if there is a chance of interference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. If so, then we will see how to stop Bluetooth Interference with Wi-Fi.

Introduction

The use of wireless technology over the past few years has increased tremendously. Thanks to the rapid development in technology, affordable hardware, and easy accessibility, more people are using wireless technology than ever before.

Worldwide availability and no license fee are the main reasons that most low-cost and low-power wireless devices operate in the ISM 2.4 GHz frequency band of the RF Spectrum.

Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (along with some other wireless technologies) operate in the same 2.4 GHz Band.

Bluetooth vs Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi or WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) is one of the most popular wireless technologies for home and office use. It comes under the IEEE 802.11 Family with several standards such as 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, etc.

Another popular wireless technology is Bluetooth. We use Bluetooth to create a WPAN (Wireless Personal Area Network) to transmit and receive data. Bluetooth Headsets, Printers, Mice, Keyboard, Remote Controls, etc. are some popular applications of Bluetooth.

Despite their common 2.4 GHz frequency band, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have certain differences. Let us quickly take a look at them.

  • The first and obvious difference is the applications of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The main use-case of Bluetooth is to replace cables for different devices and peripherals such as Mice, Keyboard, Headphones, Speakers, Printers, etc. Wi-Fi on the other hand is a primary choice of Wireless Internet Connectivity. It is also a replacement for cable ethernet but mainly for home or office networking.
  • Next, we have the speed of transmission. Bluetooth has very low data transmission speeds. For instance, if you take Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), then the maximum bit rate is 3.1Mbps. Now, if you take Wi-Fi, it can transmit data at hundreds of megabits per second.
  • Another important difference is range. Bluetooth is a low-power wireless communication. As a result, its signal has a very short range, usually up to 10 meters (about 30 feet). Wi-Fi is a slightly high-power system. It covers relatively large distances (your entire home or office).

Other Devices

Apart from Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, there are several other technologies that operate in the same 2.4 GHz Band. Here is a small list of them.

  • Cordless Phones
  • Wireless USB
  • Zigbee
  • Microwave Oven

Does Bluetooth Interfere With Wi-Fi?

We use all kinds of Bluetooth devices with our computers and smartphones all the time. Bluetooth Mice, Keyboards, and Headsets are probably the three most common Bluetooth devices.

There are other devices such as Printers and Scanners as well that we use over Bluetooth. When two Bluetooth devices try to communicate, they send signals over the 2.4 GHz RF Frequency.

The problem is that most Wi-Fi networks also operate at the same frequency. So, is there a possibility of Bluetooth Interference with Wi-Fi signals?

If we dive into the technical background of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, then Bluetooth interference with Wi-Fi is very negligible. This is because of the Frequency Hopping technique of Bluetooth.

In this technique, Bluetooth radio constantly switches its channels to avoid interference with Wi-Fi Signals or other nearby Bluetooth signals that operate in the same 2.4 GHz.

If the frequency of Bluetooth Transmission overlaps with a Wi-Fi channel, the Wi-Fi device will temporarily back off. During this time, the Bluetooth device will switch to a non-overlapping channel and both communications can continue.

Does this mean there is no Bluetooth Interference with Wi-Fi? Well, this is not entirely true. Even with advanced frequency hopping techniques, there is still a chance of interference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi communication.

Symptoms of Interference

Here are some common issues that you might face when there is interference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Connection Drops

The first and most common problem with Bluetooth Interference with Wi-Fi is an unstable connection. Be it your mouse/keyboard or headphones, your device will frequently disconnect or try to reconnect all the time.

Static Noise

This problem is significant if you are using Bluetooth headphones in proximity to other 2.4 GHz devices, such as a Wi-Fi router. The static or buzzing sound is a strong indicator that there is interference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi systems.

Audio Issues

When Bluetooth interferes with Wi-Fi (or vice-versa), your headsets might act all janky. They get random inputs even though you didn’t press a button. They skip tracks or increase/decrease volume on their own.

Increased Latency

There is already an issue of Bluetooth latency with our headsets or mice. But when there is interference with Wi-Fi, then there is a chance that this latency increases.

Drop In Signal Strength

When you use a Bluetooth device to close a strong Wi-Fi signal, then the signal strength of either or both devices might drop significantly.

Low Speed

Bluetooth is already a slow form of communication. You might not notice this when you are using Bluetooth Mice or Keyboards. But if there is interference and you are trying to send a file or photo, then this drop in speed will severely affect you.

How to Stop or Reduce Bluetooth Interference with Wi-Fi?

Use 5 GHz Wi-Fi Band

One of the simplest and easiest ways to stop Bluetooth Interference with Wi-Fi is to use the 5 GHz Frequency Band for all your Wi-Fi needs.

We know that apart from 2.4 GHz Frequency, most modern routers and Wi-Fi devices use the 5 GHz Frequency for Wi-Fi communication.

If both your router and your device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) support the 5 GHz band, then we recommend you to switch to that frequency.

Note that the range of 5 GHz frequency is less than the 2.4 GHz frequency.

Use Latest Bluetooth Technology

As we mentioned earlier, Bluetooth uses advanced frequency hopping techniques to avoid all kinds of interference with other 2.4 GHz devices.

For this to be effective, all your Bluetooth devices must have the latest hardware and firmware. So, upgrade your Bluetooth devices if they are very old.

Turn Off Other Wireless Devices

There are so many devices that use the unlicensed 2.4 GHz radio frequency. Some of them are Microwave ovens, Cordless Phones, Baby Monitors, Wireless USB Devices, Zigbee Devices, Wireless Speakers, etc.

If you are not using any of these devices, then turn them off completely so that they do not interfere with your regular Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices.

Remove Obstacles

Line of sight is the best possible way for wireless communication. But this is not possible in real life. We have walls, glass, different objects, and even our bodies that can act as a physical barrier and degrade signal quality and strength.

If you feel that there are unnecessary obstacles near or around your Bluetooth or Wi-Fi devices, then consider removing them.

Reset and Re-Pair

If you are frequently experiencing connectivity issues with your Bluetooth devices, then reset them and re-pair them. Check if there are any firmware upgrades available for your device.

If there are updates, then update them as soon as possible. This applies to both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices.

Conclusion

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are the two most popular and commonly-used wireless technologies. We use Bluetooth to connect different peripherals to computers while we use Wi-Fi to connect to wireless internet.

Despite their differences in applications, transfer speeds, and range of communication, one thing that is common between them is that they both operate in the same 2.4 GHz Radio Frequency Band.

As a result, many people wonder about the possibility of Bluetooth Interference with Wi-Fi.

In this guide, we saw the basics of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. After that, we saw that with modern Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies, the interference is very negligible between them.

We also listed some common symptoms to look out for when there is any interference between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Finally, we gave some simple tricks to reduce interference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and also with other devices that operate in the same 2.4 GHz frequency.

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