Background Information on Common Wi-Fi Problems

Why older routers, 802.11g and lower routers, and routers from ISPs are problematic

Many routers and wireless gateways provided by ISPs are older and lower quality than more modern networking gear.  Play-Fi is not especially demanding in terms of bandwidth, but it does require reliable transmit speed and quality signal.  Older routers often lack newer media streaming optimization features and the speed and range enhancements that current routers have.  Routers five years old or older are also known to become slower and less reliable as they age.  

Play-Fi will work on most 802.11g routers, but performance may not be the best. 802.11g does not support many optimizing features that were introduced in 802.11n. 802.11n routers also offer greatly improved speeds, and this can dramatically help not only Play-Fi, but also your daily network performance.  Due to its limited range and speed, Play-Fi Streaming over 802.11b is limited to a single speaker. 

Interference issues: areas with many wireless networks nearby, or with many other wireless devices in use

Using Play-Fi products in environments with many wireless networks operating at once, like an apartment building or crowded neighborhood, can be a challenge, because it is likely that these networks are causing interference with each other.

wifi analyzer

To check for this, if you are using Android, you can download and run an app like Wi-Fi Analyzer.  The app will show which broadcast channels are busy, and can help you choose a less cluttered one.  If the area is very crowded, switching to a router with 5GHz capabilities will make a big difference.   

Interference can also come from devices that don’t connect to your network, but are still emitting wireless signals.  Microwaves are one example, but wireless home phone systems and Bluetooth headphones and handsets also may cause trouble.  If your home has a lot of these devices, moving to a dual band router and using Play-Fi with the 5GHz band will be a major improvement.  Note that older Play-Fi products, like the Phorus PS1 Speaker, Phorus PR1 Receiver, and the Wren V5PF are only compatible with 2.4Ghz.

You can find instructions for changing the channel in your router owner’s manual, and a list of our recommended router specifications and models here.

Detailed information on the various 802.11 standards, 2.4 Ghz vs. 5Ghz streaming, and the impact of speed and bandwidth on network performance is available in our Wi-Fi Technology Glossary, here.