Beacon Interval – Ensuring High Speed And Performance

Okay, let’s start with a basic question. How do you connect to a Wi-fi network? Turn on your device’s Wi-fi, find the desired network in the list of available networks, and connect to the network. Simple! But have you ever wondered how you get the list of all the available networks? The answer to this question is beacons. Now, what Beacon interval are actually?

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Understanding Beacon

Let’s take an example to understand what beacons are. Imagine you’re in a shopping mall. There are a lot of shops in this mall. Each shop has different items for sale and offers different discounts for the customers. As there are a large number of shops in the mall, each shop hires some employees who will lure the customers, tell them about how good the shop is, what items the shop has for sale, the different discounts that the shop offers, and eventually convince the customer to come to their shop.


Now, a similar sort of scenario is seen in Wi-fi networks. Let’s analogue the above example to the scenario happening in Wi-fi networks. Consider the Wi-fi network as a shop in the mall. This Wi-fi network has different AP’s (Access points) connected to it, which resemble the employees in the example. As each employee wears a t-shirt that has the name of the store written on it, every AP gets the SSID (Service Set Identifier) i.e., in short, the name of the Wi-fi network, which uniquely identifies it. Now, these AP’s broadcast specific signals to advertise the network’s availability to the clients. This is similar to the employees luring the customers to visit their shops. These signals that are broadcasted by the AP’s for advertising their network’s availability are defined as Beacon interval.

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Fields Present In Beacon

Sometimes, the clients broadcast a signal asking for the available networks in their vicinity. This signal catches the beacons sent by available networks, and then the client can choose among these available networks according to the needs. This is what happens when we turn on our Wi-fi. Our device sends a signal asking for available networks, and we get a list of the networks.

The body of a beacon consists of different fields that contain information about the network. This analogues to the information that the employees of the shop give to the potential customers to convince them to visit their shop. The list of the fields that beacon consists are given below:

  1.  SSID
  2.  Timestamp
  3.  Capability information
  4.  Beacon interval
  5.  Contention free
  6.  Frequent hopping
  7.  Direct sequence
  8.  Traffic indication map
  9.  IBSS parameter set
  10. All these fields give out information about the network.

The beacon field that we are going to discuss in this manuscript is the beacon interval. We will cover all the information related to this intervals like the definition, the repercussions of high and low beacon value, and also give you an overview on how to adjust your router’s interval settings. So, let’s not waste any more time and get to know about this intervals.

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Definition Of Beacon Interval?

Let’s again take the reference of the above mall example to understand these intervals. Now, the employees of the shop come to you to advertise their shop in some interval of time. They do not bombard information on you continuously. Similarly, the beacons are not sent continuously by the AP’s. They are sent gradually in some specific intervals of time. This interval of time between the broadcasting of two consecutive beacons is defined as the interval.

beacon interval 2
beacon interval

Beacon interval is one of the router settings that you can alter while adjusting the speed and performance of the router. Everyone neglects this setting but it proves to be one of the best solutions for achieving high speed as well as the performance of the router. 100ms is the default  interval value of routers. Most of the time, this value is compatible. But it isn’t the optimal or ideal value as it depends on the users how they want to set up their network.

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Repercussions Of Having High Beacon Values And Low Beacon Values

Let us see about high beacon values and low beacon values.

High Beacon-interval Value

Having a high beacon interval value means that the interval between the broadcasting of two consecutive beacons is more. The beacons that the routers send take up some of the actual information transmission bandwidth. This is helpful in achieving better throughput. Better throughput means better speed and performance.

Having a high interval value also ensures that the adapter has time to sleep between two beacon broadcasts. This makes your devices like phones, tablets, systems, and laptops save power consumption, and hence they provide longer use of the battery.

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Low Beacon-interval Value

Having a low beacon interval value means that the interval between the broadcasting of two consecutive beacons is less. The low value of the this ensures that the detection of the router is fast as beacons broadcast are more frequent. It helps in the surroundings with weak signals or having poor reception. There are higher chances of the beacon being caught by the devices due to the high rate of broadcasting. It can also be useful with roaming devices as you can improve your choice as to which network to connect to.

Sometimes, having a low this interval value may enhance the connection as it does not let the devices sleep. But this situation is very rare as the other router settings dishearten the device to enter the sleeping mode.

Range Of Configuration For Beacon-interval

The allowed beacon interval range provided by brands and models depends on the brand and manufacturer. The default range is 100ms. The allowed ranges are 20-1000 for Asus, 1-65535 for Netgear, and 25-500 for D-Link. A third party firmware can make changes to these ranges cannot.

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How To Adjust Your Router’s Beacon-interval Settings

Usually, a lot of tutorials help us to alter this interval from the default 100ms to 50ms. But this is not advisable.

One should first understand what this interval exactly is and to look at the router setup to really know the optimal value to be tweak. In a basic router used for home purposes, it is advisable to go with the highest value possible. You just have to log in to your router’s setup page and type in the highest value. The router will inform you of the highest number allowed.

beacon interval
beacon interval

The reason for setting the this interval to the highest value possible is that your home network does not have multiple APs. Also, you don’t roam in your house at high speed while using Wi-fi. You mostly do not disconnect yourself and reconnect while playing games, watching online TV, or streaming movies. Hence, the lower interval value is of no use when you need the highest value possible and save all the available data transmission bandwidth for the above purposes.

beacon interval advanced setting
beacon interval advanced setting

You have to be very careful while tuning the beacon interval value when you have multiple APs connected to your network. Here, you want your beacons to be broadcasted frequently while also saving the bandwidth for better performance. Now, if you’re having trouble while roaming at 100ms, then you can drop the value to 50ms at the beginning, and then while monitoring the performance of your network, you can keep tuning the value.

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All in all, this beacon interval setting is very useful when it comes to the speed and performance of the router. If tuned and tweaked properly, it will ensure the high performance of the router. That is all we’ve got for you in this manuscript. We hope all your doubts regarding the this interval have been solved and now this concept is clear to you. Do not forget to give us your feedback because that is what keeps us hyped and excited about writing more. Thank you, and enjoy your high-speed internet. Adios!

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