Wireless settings and what they mean

Doing research on wireless settings of your access point can be confusing and very technical.  Here’s a couple of settings you will find in your wireless AP –

  • RTS- (Ready to Send) threshold specifies the packet size of RTS transmissions.  You can use this to control traffic flow through your access point.  This can help if you have a lot of computers or mobile devices connected.  A lower threshold means that RTS packets are very frequently, consuming more bandwidth and reducing the throughput of the packet.   Generally the default setting is OK (2347).  Lower only 1 point at a time if you need to adjust this setting.  (Connectivity problems)
  • CTS (Clear to Send) Protect -With CTS enabled or in Protection Mode, CTS should assist 802.11B/G devices and help them to have a chance to transmit to the access point.  If you have a very efficient network, and the error rate is low, disable CTS protection to gain better performance.
  • Fragmentation Threshold – The default fragmentation threshold is set to 2346 bytes,  this disables packet fragmentation.  If you suspect radio interference you can lower this 1 point at a time (always test by lower 1 at a time) . This will increase overhead on the network and can greatly reduce throughput so lower only 1 at a time and test.

  •  DTIM is The delivery traffic indication message.  It is an element included in beacon frames. Basically if data is buffered on the access point and needs to be picked up, this setting tells associated computers to check for buffered data.   A setting of 1 tells associated computers to check at every beacon.

  • Beacon – A Beacon tells clients to check the access point.  If you have a value of  10, clients check the access point on every tenth beacon. The default on many routers is two beacons. Most devices allow a setting from  1 to 255 beacons. A beacon is much like a lighthouse.  The access point sends a beacon that tells devices that it exists.  So therefore a beacon rate set to 10 sends 10 beacon frames per second.

  • Preamble –  the preamble is a pause before data is sent.   Short preamble pauses briefly and long gives a long pause before data is sent.   None crowded networks may benefit from a short preamble.  Long preambles can pause and may even help with connectivity on a crowded network.

  • Radio Mode – If you have laptops that are 802.11g only, it is best to select 802.11g in the radio (quicker connections and no slowing down).  Mixed Mode can cause latency (pauses).  You have to take into consideration any devices (guests) that may enter your network.   These devices may have 802.11b.   Setting to 802.11g can slow 802.11n devices.   If you have devices that are g and n or even b, leave the device on Auto or Mixed Mode.


    Having connection problems to certain websites or getting updates?  Adjust your MTU from 1500 to 1492 or lower on both the AP and remember, you may need to adjust your MTU on your network card.


About TCAT Shelbyville IT Department

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology - is one of 46 institutions in the Tennessee Board of Regents System, the seventh largest system of higher education in the nation. This system comprises six universities, fourteen community colleges, and twenty-six Applied Technology Colleges.
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