Does a Plasma TV Interfere With Wireless Internet?

By Andy Walton

Plasma displays are made up of thousands of tiny fluorescent lights.
i Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Plasma TVs can generate significant amounts of radio frequency noise, causing interference to your wireless signal and decreasing the quality of your Internet connection. This noise is caused by radio waves, which can collide with and disrupt your Internet signal as it travels. However, you can reduce the effects of plasma interference by setting your router to broadcast on a cleaner wireless channel and altering the layout of your wireless network.

Wireless Signals

Wireless signals are transmitted as radio frequency waves, in a similar way to TV or radio signals. The waves travel through the air until they hit a receiving antenna, which is usually the wireless adapter in your computer. However, if these RF waves collide with another wave of a similar frequency as they travel then the properties of both waves are affected. This interference often means that the wireless signal has to be re-sent, a process which takes time and slows your connection down.

Plasma TV Interference

Like many electronic devices, plasma TVs generate radio waves as a by-product of their operation. This interference is due to the electrical current used to excite the pixels in the display itself. Although properties of the interference generated by plasma TVs can vary widely, this interference is often found on the 2.4-GHz band used by routers and other Wi-Fi communications equipment. With the 2.4-GHz band clogged by TV interference, the chances of your router being able to transmit signals cleanly are greatly reduced.

Signal Paths

When attempting to bypass wireless interference from a plasma TV, you should first identify your wireless signal path. A wireless signal path is the physical path that your signal must take in order to get from a transmitting device to a receiving device. Although it may be difficult to position your router and devices so that they are entirely unaffected by interference from your TV, you should at least ensure that the signal path does not pass within a few feet of the TV set itself.

Wireless Channel

Changing the wireless channel allows you to tweak the frequency on which your router broadcasts. This means that you can improve signal quality by having your router broadcast on a frequency that has less plasma interference. Experiment with wireless channels to see which works best in your property. Alternatively, you could use dual-band, if your router supports it. This sets your router to broadcast in the 5-GHz frequency band, which is usually cleaner than its 2.4-GHz equivalent.