Will wireless signal degrade if I stack my router on top of a cable box?
Wireless signal will degrade when you put anything between the access point (which is sometimes located inside your cable box, and sometimes inside your router) and the client device. The degree to which it does so depends on the RF attenuation properties of that object (human beings, for example, attenuate 2.4GHz signals quite a bit owing to being full of water). Any metal objects will also significantly attenuate the signal, especially if they’re grounded, and especially especially if they’re resonant at your wifi frequencies (2.4GHz and 5.8GHz).
Your cable box may also be generating noise on those frequencies, in which case it becomes interference. You can measure this noise/iterference with a spectrum analyzer. Your wireless access point needs to have a good signal:noise ratio to function optimally (usually at least 20–30dB). In most cases, the noise will be confined to the area immediately around the access point and won’t significantly affect the client device’s ability to hear the signal, but it will affect the range to which you can take your client and still have your access point hear it.
Imagine someone on a crowded stage, speaking over a PA system while people around them are talking. You can hear the speaker just fine, but if you try to speak back to them they can’t hear you above the crowd.
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