What is Beacon Interval? (Advanced Router Settings)

Intro to What is Beacon Interval Wifi. When we talk about router settings and internet speeds, beacon interval is often overlooked in favor of more well-known ways to optimize your speed. But that’s unfair – it is a router setting that can be highly effective in improving internet speeds and troubleshooting router issues. In this article, we’ll take a look at what beacon interval WiFi actually means and then dive into how you can use it to make your internet lightning fast.

What is beacon interval?

What is beacon interval

Simply, beacon interval is the amount of time between your router’s beacons, packets of data that it sends out to synchronize the overall wireless network – this is basically like it telling devices on the network where it is (and sort of just that it exists). The time between different packets getting broadcast along the network is usually measured in milliseconds (ms). Most routers are by default set to have an interval of 100 ms. The higher the value, the longer between broadcasts.

Beacons are needed so that devices on the network can know information about the router, such as its SSID and timestamp, although there are many different pieces of information it could receive.

A beacon interval of 100 ms will usually suit most use cases, although it can be beneficial, depending on a number of different factors, to have a beacon interval that is higher or lower than that. If you find your network lagging, then it could be a sign that you need to modify your beacon interval value.

Benefits of a higher beacon interval

Most routers available will allow you to change the beacon interval settings so that the delay is anything from 10 ms to 1000 ms. The optimal setting for you depends on a few things.

Increasing the beacon interval so that it is above 100 ms could increase the amount of data able to pass through the network and can increase your network’s speed significantly. When a router broadcasts a beacon, it takes up a bit of the network’s bandwidth – bandwidth that could be used for the actual data. So, simply, if you have a higher beacon interval then more data is able to pass through the network, leading to higher speeds.

Many people find that when they increase the beacon interval on their router, the battery life of their devices increases quite dramatically. This is because it requires the device to receive the signal and read the router’s data less often. If you’re someone who finds that their laptop or phone is always nearly out of juice, then increasing your beacon interval is one possible solution to that problem.

When the beacon interval is lower, the router uses network capacity to send out the broadcasts, leaving less room for actual traffic to pass through it.

However, be careful – having higher (600-1000 ms) beacon interval values can lead to problems further down the line with network stability. At the end of this article, we’ll tell you how to find the optimal setting for your network.

Benefits of a lower beacon interval

So, if increasing your beacon interval leads to more traffic able to pass through the network, what does lowering your router’s beacon interval do?

When you decrease your router’s beacon interval, you are effectively making it so the router uses more of the network’s capacity to send out those broadcasts, instead of leaving the space free for normal network traffic to pass through. This can significantly lower your internet speeds if not careful.

Lowering your beacon interval settings will also drain the battery life on your devices faster. However, it’s important to note that not every device will be able to respond to the router with the same speed that it broadcasts beacons. For example, iPhones are set to respond to the router every 1000 ms by Apple. This cannot be changed and is a limitation of the hardware itself, rather than anything caused by your router or network settings.

Lower beacon intervals do have many uses, though. Larger networks, such as those in an office or school, generally have much lower beacon intervals than home routers. These larger networks have many more access points than in your home, and so having much more frequent broadcasts allow the devices to decide on the best possible access point, giving the best connection possible.

Having a lower beacon interval will also allow devices to discover networks faster as beacons are sent along with the network with a higher frequency. In environments with poor reception, such as in remote areas or extreme altitudes, having a lower beacon interval can help to improve the signal, as devices have a higher chance of seeing and responding to them.

There are some (very specific and unlikely) cases in which a lower beacon interval can actually improve connection by constantly having your devices respond to its broadcasts and not enter rest or sleep modes. However, most modern routers now have a variety of settings that accomplish similar things without having to alter your beacon interval settings.

How to find the right beacon interval settings

finding the right settings

You now know about different beacon interval settings and what having a higher or lower beacon interval setting actually does. Now, it’s time to learn how you can find the optimal beacon interval settings for your router and network, and how you can optimize your internet speed.

It’s important to figure out what the problem you’re actually having is. If you find that your signal is always bad and that you take a long time to load webpages, then it could be that your beacon interval is too high – making it lower should improve the signal on the network.

If you’re having problems with devices running out extremely fast or connectivity issues, then it’s probably best to make the beacon interval higher.

This all depends, of course, on what router you have. Different brands of routers will have different settings, with some manufacturers limiting how high or low you are able to set your beacon interval to. Some routers are able to be set anywhere from 10ms to 1000 ms, while some are set to many narrow ranges, for example, routers made by D-Link are usually restricted to beacon intervals between 25 and 500 ms.

If you’re only adjusting the router settings for the router inside your home (a place where you likely have quite a strong signal), then it can generally be advisable to set your beacon interval to the higher echelons of the range allowed by the manufacturer. Be careful and experiment to find the optimal setting for your router that improves connectivity but doesn’t make the network less stable.

Managers of large wireless networks with a large number of users and multiple access points, then set the beacon interval value to be below 100ms could be beneficial to the network’s stability and signal strength.

Make sure to keep a close eye on data to ensure that you are achieving the optimal setting.

Tips and closing thoughts

Anything involving IT can be a pretty daunting task, especially when it affects whether or not you’ll be able to connect to the internet. It’s hugely important that you closely monitor all available data in order to see what the optimal settings for your network are (and avoid making the signal worse).

It’s very frustrating when you can’t connect to the internet or the speeds you’re getting are lower than what your internet provider guaranteed. There are, however, a number of things you can do in order to improve this.

One of the best things you can do to improve your network’s speed is to simply upgrade to a new router. Technology changes fast, and problems that were present in older routers are no longer relevant nowadays. If it’s been a few years since your last router purchase, consider investing in a new one to take advantage of hardware improvements.

Remember: If your signal is weak and keeps dropping, then you should probably lower the beacon interval so that your device has more chances to notice and receive the broadcasts. To achieve faster speeds, it could be helpful to set your router’s beacon interval higher, as more traffic will be able to pass through the network when it isn’t interrupted by the broadcast.

Adjusting your router settings can be a pretty tedious task, but it is vital that you go through a process of trial and error, testing and tweaking different settings to see what works best for your network, and gives you the best balance of good signal and connectivity and high speeds.

Good luck!