beacon interval

Beacon Interval on a Wireless Router and How to Set it Up

Have you ever wondered how your wireless router works? You need a router to access the internet wirelessly, and this is achieved because your wireless router sends out a beacon so that the connected devices can identify where the router or access point is located.

Think of it in terms of a lighthouse. Just like a lighthouse sends out periodic beams of light to guide ships, similarly a wireless router sends out a beacon to guide devices to where the router is.

Why is It Important to Know About Beacon Interval?

If you’ve ever experienced dropped connections or have noticed that your connection seems to be slower than usual, tweaking your beacon interval configuration could considerably optimize your wireless speed. This is often an over looked configurable parameter when it comes to factors affecting your internet speed, which is why the BlueGadgetTooth team is going to go over the basics as well as showing how YOU can tweak the settings yourself. Read on.

What is Beacon Interval?

Also known as Beacon Broadcast Interval, this is the lag time between the periodic transmissions or ‘beacons’ sent by your router. Your router sends out a beacon to all devices within a certain range. The default beacon setting is set to 100ms as it is measured in milliseconds. Time Units (TUs) are used to measure beacon interval and each TU = 1024 microseconds. Most people don’t tamper with their beacon settings, and if your router and connection is working perfectly fine, you don’t have to do anything with it at all.

How to Set Up Beacon Interval On Your Wireless Router

If you’ve come to your wits end about your connection and you think your network could use a boost, follow these instructions:

1) Log in to your wireless router and input all security details such as your login name and password to your router’s IP address.

2) Go to Advanced Settings – you should be able to see the beacon interval settings given there.

3) Input in a number you want for your beacon interval. (What number you insert will make a difference – read below to know the difference between higher and lower beacon interval settings.)

4) Save your settings.

Benefits of Higher and Lower Beacon Interval

Even though the default setting is set at 100ms, you can tweak it for better performance. Depending on what your problem is regarding your network, you can tweak it to a higher or lower number.

1) High Beacon Interval

This is the setting when the number is set higher than 100ms. When your wireless router’s beacon interval settings are changed for a higher number, beacons are sent out less often than before. This would be good for you if you have a fixed location where you work or play and you have strong signal strength.

If you always work on a desk at a certain location, and you know you have good connectivity, changing your settings to make them higher will also save battery life on your devices as they have to do less work. But you should keep in mind, that if you are always mobile in your home, changing it to a higher interval setting could cause problems in your connectivity.

2) Lower Beacon Interval

When you change it to a lower setting, your access point will send out beacons more frequently. This is great for people who may live in an urban setting which offers a lot of network interference, like apartment complexes. Even if you have a weak connection, lowering the beacon interval could help improve your network.

But remember, there is always an up and a down to everything. The more beacons sent out, the more your devices have to work in picking it up, which leads to lower battery life.

Be careful of inserting too low a number, as you may just end up getting ridiculously slow speeds on your network because your bandwidth is being used up by your beacons.

Optimum Beacon Interval For Your Needs

The optimum setting will also depend on the make of your wireless router. Different routers have different settings. For example, when it comes to Asus, the settings vary from 20ms – 1000 ms, whereas if it comes to D-Link, you could be looking at settings which are restricted to 25ms – 500ms.

A general good rule to follow is that if everything in your network is working fine, don’t mess around with the settings. But if you have a weak signal – go for lower numbers and if you want better battery life for your devices, change it to a higher setting.

There is no fixed number that is optimum for every router or every individual. There are so many factors that go into determining optimum beacon interval settings. These range from your network itself, your signal strength and even the make of your router.

But here are a few tips that could help you out:

  • If you enjoy a strong home network and are not worried about the signal strength, tweak it to the highest number permitted. Try not to go beyond a certain range, like 700 ms as your stability does get affected. Staying between 100ms – 700 ms will help ensure your signal is not adversely affected.
  • If you have a larger space with multiple access points in use as well as multiple connected devices, you could drop the numbers. 50ms onwards is a good starting point and keeping a close eye on the performance will help you understand if something needs to be tweaked further.
  • If you are not careful with the configurations of the beacon, your client could be disassociated with the Access point – basically, not good news.

Final Words

It is more often than not, that we get stuck with less than optimum speeds. If you’re paying for more, but are receiving a sub-par connection, you can up your game by simply tweaking the beacon interval settings. This is one easy way of potentially making a huge difference to your wireless connection – for the better.

Some points to remember:

  • Update your equipment periodically
  • Drop below the default 100ms setting if you have a weak signal
  • Go above 100ms if you want better battery life
  • Keep Monitoring your performance and tweak accordingly

As always, if you need more information on what to do, are having problems with finding your correct settings, write your comment in the section below!

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