Sometimes — and just sometimes — Bluetooth devices interfere with other technologies.
To communicate between your devices, Bluetooth sends signals over a 2.4GHz radio frequency. This becomes problematic when other nearby devices are also using that frequency. Wi-Fi is perhaps the biggest and most problematic example, as are other Bluetooth receivers and devices, which can interfere with one another. That said, even microwaves can interfere with your Bluetooth devices, as can Direct Satellite Service (DSS), 2.4GHz and 5GHz phones, wireless speakers, external monitors, baby monitors, and really any wireless device that uses Bluetooth technology.
Still, in theory at least, interference between Bluetooth technologies should be relatively rare with properly designed devices, because their signals are relatively weak — 1 milliwatt, as compared to cell phones, which emit about 3 milliwatts. What’s more, most of today’s Bluetooth technology use what’s called spread-spectrum frequency hopping — that is, they rotate between 70 randomly chose frequencies within their range, changing 1,600 times a second. This makes it unlikely that two devices will share the same frequency, and when they do, they won’t for very long. Other Bluetooth technology also employs what is called AFH, a technology that identifies “bad” channels (i.e. those that are already in use) and instigates a switch.
Still, frequency interference does exist. So what should you do about it?
How to Stop Frequency Interference in Its Tracks
- Remove All Barriers: Certain building materials can get in the way of weaker signals like Bluetooth. Metal, bulletproof glass, concrete and plaster are particularly bad, and marble, plaster and brick aren’t great easy. So if you’re really struggling with interference, your first step should be to move your Bluetooth devices away from these materials. That means no brick walls between you and your devices, and definitely no metal desks!
- Change Router Channel: If you have an Apple router and you’re constantly getting interference with your WiFi, try rebooting it. Upon restart, the station will search for a new channel — specifically, a different channel than the one your Bluetooth devices are using to communicate. If you don’t have an Apple router, you may need to instead go into your router settings and try changing the channel manually. Experiment with different channels to see which one works best.
- Move Closer to Your Router: If you often find that you’re getting interference when talking on a wireless headset while on a WiFi call (you’ll know because you’ll hear static), try moving closer to your router. This will give you a more robust WiFi connection, so the Bluetooth frequency can’t overpower it.
- Get Away From Microwaves and Fluorescent Lighting: Both emit frequencies of 2.4GHz, and moving away from them will distance you from the source.
While these interventions can definitely help, there actually shouldn’t be much need for them, as the technology has advanced to the point where interference shouldn’t be much of a problem. If your problems persist, then there is probably something wrong with one of your Bluetooth devices and you should take it in to a specialist.