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July 11, 2008 / douglasac

Microwaves, Cordless Phones, Remotes and 802.11g WiFi Networks

Microwaves, Cordless Phones, Remotes and 802.11g WiFi Networks: what do they have in common? They’re not all wireless (well, my nuker ain’t, at any rate!), and they don’t all need to be plugged into the wall (my remotes don’t, as well).

So? Got you stumped, have I?

What they all have in common is that they all use the 2.4GHz spectrum, as a general rule. Here, have a pretty picture:

the nuker, cordless phone and router all use the 2.4GHz spectrum!

Something's going to go wrong here: the nuker, cordless phone and router all use the 2.4GHz spectrum!

(You can click it for biggerness. I apologize for the crudity, but I only have paint on Vist, the computer I’m using.)

There’s no remote in the picture, but there we go.

Now, lots of cordless phones use the 2.4GHz frequency. Not all of them do: recent Panasonic phones either use the 1.8GHz frequency or 5.4GHz. Older ones will use 700MHz, as well as some cheaper ones. The simple solution to this is to make sure that you buy a WiFi friendly phone.

802.11g networks and microwaves use the 2.4GHz frequency, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Remotes are a different thing. All remotes are different: they all transmit different codes to tell them different things. For instance, a Sony TV remote will generally not work with a Panasonic one (And if it does, it will no doubt do the wrong thing when you tell it to do something).

Now, the picture. In this case, this person is nuking their leftover chicken, recieving a phonecall on their cordless phone and doing something with an 802.11g network. All these things use the 2.4GHz frequency. There is only room for one device to do something.

The microwave is a dumb machine. It will continue, but it will just spin and you’ll still have cold chicken (Not that I would complain. I love cold food!). The cordless phone is smart: it will attempt to use a different channel. And the WiFi will try to do so, too.

But what if you live in a house with several cordless phones and with a few 802.11g networks around? There might not be enough channels. In this case, it’s “first come, first served”.

(Another thing which uses the 2.4GHz spectrum is Bluetooth, but I can’t be bothered getting into that)

EDIT: After much researching, I’ve found that there are a whopping great three channels in the 2.4GHz spectrum, which is a bit silly, because it’s an unrestricted channel, meaning anyone can use it for anything, as opposed to a channel used by an airport, which if you listen in to, is generally frowned upon and the AFP or FBI or whoever will come knocking on your door and will arrest you on terrorism charges.



Leave a Comment
  1. Caryn / Jul 13 2008 1:19 AM

    Fine, I’ll comment. Nice little guilt trip thing you have going on there.
    I did read it before, for the record.
    So did your chicken end up being cold, or was this all a hypothetical brain exercise?
    Either way, I liked the picture.

  2. douglasac / Jul 13 2008 1:29 AM

    No, no chicken. Although our nuker is old, and this may not be the cause, but I get cold things from it sometimes. (And I don’t like chicken on the bone).

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