With the release of eero App version 6.32.0, we added Wifi Radio Metrics, a new feature that allows eero Plus customers the ability to view more advanced wireless details like channel busyness, noise floor, and the channels and bandwidth being used by the eero devices on your network.
Channel busyness is a major factor in the performance of your wifi network. In short, the lower channel busyness is in your environment, the better your devices are likely to perform and as channel busyness increases so does the opportunity for certain issues to arise. Busyness can be affected by several factors including interference from non-wifi devices, like baby monitors, and neighboring wifi networks.
With Wifi Radio Metrics, you can now check for channel congestion and view the channel busyness on your network. The feature lets you select supported models* of eero on your network and view activity across all available radio bands including 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz bands (if the eero device supports the 6 GHz band). Additionally, you’re able to select to view either 6 or 24 hours of data and see specific periods of time simply by tapping your finger on the graph. You can navigate with the left and right arrow buttons to view this data back in time, as far back as the most recent 48 hours.
* Supported models do not include Gen 1 eero devices, eero Built-in enabled Echo devices, or eero PoE Gateway.
To get started using this feature:
- Open the eero App
- Tap on one of your eero devices to go to the eero details page
- Tap on ‘Wifi radios’
Please note: for iOS users, full visibility into this feature requires a device using iOS 16 or greater. Devices that are running earlier iOS versions will need to be updated in order to fully view the Wifi Radio Metrics feature.
What does this data mean? How does channel busyness affect how well my devices perform?
Wifi is limited to something called “half-duplex” - when there are two devices communicating with each other, only one can talk at a time just like if we’re using walkie-talkies, meaning that one device has to finish talking before the other can start. As we add in more devices, this means that each must wait their turn listening for when the channel is clear before they can start transmitting data themselves.
Since there is no “air control tower” to help coordinate these transmissions, wireless devices must coordinate with each other like cars on a busy highway waiting for the lane to clear. As a result, there is only so much time available for transmissions to occur.
Channel busyness can be thought of as a way to measure the impact of this limitation. If channel busyness is low, the “highway” is nice and clear, and there’s plenty of time available to transmit as they please. As channel busyness gets higher, this highway becomes more congested, meaning that data cannot travel as quickly or may even come to a complete halt.
In the real world, the effects of high channel busyness will differ depending on how you’re using your wireless network and what your devices are doing. Some simpler applications that don’t need to transmit a lot of data quickly may not see any issues, however bandwidth-intensive applications may see behavior like downloads taking longer than expected.
As channel busyness climbs close to 100%, you likely begin to see issues that have greater impact on network performance like increased latency, data packets not being sent, or even network SSIDs no longer appearing as available and devices failing to connect.
To help those unfamiliar with some of the terminology used within this feature we have included a list of definitions below.
What are the “Total busy”, “Activity on this radio”, “Other device interference” and “Noise floor” values?
As we mentioned in the above section, wireless devices have to share the same wireless frequencies and must coordinate when they’re sending data. Since channel busyness includes both the data transmitted or received by the radio on your eero router, as well as the radios on nearby wireless devices that may be on neighboring networks, we’ve separated these into two categories:
- Activity on this radio: This is the percentage of time the eero radio spends communicating to other devices. If there are a lot of connected devices or very chatty devices (e.g, baby monitor, security camera, work laptop, TV), you may see a high value for activity on this radio.
- Other device interference: This is the percentage of time that other devices spend communicating on the same channels as the eero radio. “Other device interference” can be impacted by: 1) neighboring networks or devices; 2) other eero devices on your network. If you have a lot of neighboring networks or devices, this may result in a high “Other device interference” value. Additionally, other eero devices may contribute to this value as well, so it’s worth checking the busyness data for other eero devices on your network to see if any of them are higher than expected, which may be due to a very active device on your network connected to that eero.
Two other important concepts are total busyness and noise floor, defined below.
- Total busyness: This is the sum of both “Activity on this radio” and “Other device interference”, representing the overall busyness of the channel.
- Noise floor: This is the noise value (in dBm) on this channel. Noise is generally due to transmissions from devices that are too mumbled to be understood (like signals that have degraded over longer distances) or other types of unexpected interference from non-wifi devices using the same part of the wireless spectrum. A higher noise floor will impact the Signal-to-noise ratio, which can impact performance.
What different channel information is available?
We display the following information regarding the channels your eero is using:
- Channel: This is the channel being used by the eero. For example, we may use channel 1, 6, or 11 on 2.4 GHz, which are the most commonly used channels for this band. These channels are a combination of smaller channels which are added together to reach a given bandwidth. Your eero router will automatically select which channels to use through our Automatic Channel Selection feature based on your wireless environment.
- Control Channel: The control channel is used for special types of transmissions called management or control frames, which are used to maintain device connectivity and provide coordination between devices. These require much less bandwidth than data frames. The control channel will always be in the same “set” of channels as the Channel mentioned above, but may be a different value than expected.
- Channel Bandwidth: This is the bandwidth being used by a given eero radio on the channel selected, which will vary depending on the radio and eero model you’ve selected. For example 2.4 GHz will always use either 20 or 40 Mhz, while 5 GHz will use either 80 MHz or 16 0MHz (160 MHz is limited to the eero 6+, eero Pro 6E, and eero PoE 6 models).
- Channel Change: When a channel change occurs, you’ll see a line displayed on the graph showing when the change occurred.
What are the differences between “Average busyness”, “P99 busyness”, and “Maximum Busyness”?
Since channel busyness can vary heavily based on the time of day or number of nearby devices, we have added a few different types of calculations to help understand busyness over a given timeframe.
- Average busyness: This is the average busyness for the radio over the timeframe that you’ve selected. A high average busyness is an indicator that you may have a particularly busy home network, live near a lot of busy networks, or a combination of the two.
- P99 busyness: Since max busyness only captures the absolute highest amount of busyness, P99 (99th percentile) busyness can help provide a better estimate for what busyness looked like at its highest in a given period of time. This is the average of the worst 1% of channel busyness for the selected time frame.
- Maximum busyness: This is the highest channel busyness seen in the selected timeframe. Since your wireless environment can change at any given time, this may be due to a brief spike in busyness during the day (for example when everyone returns home in the evening), but can be helpful in addition to the other two metrics.
How is Channel busyness calculated?
Channel busyness is calculated by taking the amount of time an eero radio and other, nearby radios on the same set of channels spend transmitting or receiving data and comparing it to the amount of time that the channel is clear for new transmissions.
Since wifi relies on using a shared set of wireless frequencies, wireless devices must coordinate their transmissions and can only send data when it seems like the channel is clear. As the number of nearby devices and transmissions increases, channel busyness will increase as well, which can eventually lead to symptoms like slower speeds or increased latency.
Can I change eero channels?
eero uses a feature called automatic channel selection, which allows your network to choose the ideal channel for each band based on routine scans of the wireless environment. It is not currently possible to manually change the channel or bandwidth that is being used by your eero network.
How can I use this data to improve my network?
Since channel busyness is determined by both the traffic generated by your wifi network and personal devices, as well as neighboring networks and their devices, there is not always a clear-cut path to improving this metric. There will likely be periods of heavy wifi network usage as folks return home from work or school and start using their devices that are unavoidable, similar to morning or evening roadway traffic.
eero will make use of the Automatic Channel Selection feature we mentioned to try to move to a more ideal channel. However, since there are a limited number of channels available and many of those channels have some overlap with each other, we may not always be able to move to a channel that’s less busy.
One metric that may be helpful to look at is the “Activity on this radio” metric, as this will help you determine if the traffic is specific to that particular eero’s radio. This can help you pin down if there may be a specific device or set of devices that’s behind the channel busyness.