Have you ever bought a new Wi-Fi, MiFi, or other mobile router and discovered it includes 2.4GHz, 5GHz, or perhaps both (dual band) frequency bands? And did you ever wonder why some routers have these dual bands?
Wireless data is exchanged between devices using a frequency band. The data is transmitted across radio waves, or bands. Either 2.4 or 5 gigahertz make up these bands. Many Wi-Fi routers only transmit on one of these bands, typically 2.4GHz. Because that is the most typical frequency, that is. These are known as single-band routers, but more recent Wi-Fi routers, hence the name dual-band Wi-Fi router, transmit data on both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands.
The 2.4GHz band performs reasonably well. It is the standard band; however, the problem is that it's not just a standard band that's used in Wi-Fi routers. It is also the standard band that many other devices use, such as cordless phones, Bluetooth gadgets, wireless cameras, and microwave ovens. The 2.4GHz frequency band is used by all of these. Since so many other devices were using the 2.4GHz frequency, the signal became overcrowded and was heavily interfering with Wi-Fi signals. When this occurs, the Wi-Fi network speed is slowed down, and connecting to the router may occasionally become problematic. The 5 gigahertz band was added for this reason.
Compared to the 2.4GHz frequency, the 5GHz spectrum is newer and less frequently used. Less devices are using the 5GHz band, thus it is not as congested, indicating that there is little to no interference. Utilizing the 5GHz would solve the issue of sluggish network speeds and connection hiccups.
Due to a difference in wireless channels, the 2.4GHz is also more susceptible to interference. A wireless channel today is merely a means of adjusting and fine-tuning a frequency. If other wireless devices are interfering with your signal, you may occasionally need to switch to a new channel. There are 11 channels available in the 2.4 GHz frequency, however only 3 of them are non-overlapping. This basically means that you can select between three reliable channels. With 25 non-overlapping channels, the 5GHz frequency band has far more channels to choose from.
The speed and range that these frequencies can cover are further differences between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. The 2.4GHz band has a larger range than the 5GHz band, but it delivers data at a slower rate. Because the 5GHz has a higher frequency it has a harder time penetrating solid surfaces like floors and walls in a building. Although the 5GHz frequency has a shorter range than the 2.4GHz band, it does transfer data more quickly.
Which band you actually want to use really depends on your situation. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but to sum it up:
The advantage of the 2.4 gigahertz is that it has a farther range and it can penetrate solid objects better. However, the disadvantage is that it's more vulnerable to interference because so many other devices use the same band and it's also slower than the 5 gigahertz.
The advantage of the five gigahertz is that it has a higher transfer speed and it's less vulnerable to interference, but at the same time it does have a shorter range and has a harder time penetrating through solid objects.
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