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The 2.4 GHz band is not useless. Since a 2.4 GHz signal uses shorter waves, it can penetrate walls better than a 5 GHz signal. If your Apple TV 4 and WiFi router are separated by walls, 2.4 GHz may actually be better than 5 GHz. In most cases, Apple TV 4 will use both bands, as part of the 802.11ac wireless standard. This isn’t always ideal and if your WiFi reception is weak or spotty, I recommend trying one or the other, with different channels. After all, you’re WiFi network is competing with interference and the architecture of your home. The default router settings might not be ideal.
Finding the best settings is often a trial and error process. While there are some effective tools to examine wireless transmissions, ultimately this has to work on your Apple TV. Apple TV’s wireless receiver is a black box. It can’t be configured or tuned. We can’t look at the bandwidth or channels it is using. It’s a consumer appliance and not a real computer. At best, we can change the router’s configuration, look at WiFi signal strength and test the network speed.
There is a $2.99 Apple TV app, Wi-Fi Info, that can provide more information about your Apple TV 4’s WiFi connection. It provides details such as bands and channels used. This may be a worthwhile investment, however, we’ll troubleshoot Apple TV WiFi without paid apps in this article.
Before we begin, it’s a good idea to download the Speedtest app for Apple TV. This free app is indispensable for diagnosing network issues. It runs a test of your Internet connection speed. Keep in mind, this isn’t necessarily the speed of your WiFi network, but it is still an important statistic. After all, you will be watching streaming video through the Internet and probably not from your home network, although that is a possibility with iTunes Home Sharing, Plex and other technologies.
There’s a 99 cent Apple TV app (WiFi Speed Test) that can measure the data transfer speed between an iOS device and your Apple TV. This is a more accurate measure of your WiFi network’s speed. For the purposes of this article, we’ll use Speedtest because it is free and good enough.
You can download Speedtest by launching the App Store and searching for the app. Select and click on the Speedtest icon to go to the app’s detail screen. Click on Get to install the app. Speedtest will be installed on your Home screen.
With Speedtest installed, launch the app from the Home screen. Click the Touchpad to start the test. This will give you an idea of your Apple TV’s WiFi performance. If possible, run Speedtest on another device that has good WiFi reception, such as your iPhone or computer. If your Apple TV is much slower, it’s a good idea to try configuring your router. Since Speedtest measures your overall network speed, including your Internet connection, run this test a few times to make sure you get similar results. The results will vary, but should be consistent enough to evaluate if WiFi router changes are beneficial. (continue…)