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A wireless network is something most people take for granted. When it is working, no one notices. The moment it starts to act up, usually slower speeds, you notice and get upset. Thankfully, there are a few things you keep in mind when setting up, or updating, your wireless network to help provide the best experience possible.

There have been times where friends and family members have asked:

Which WiFi band should I use? 5Ghz or 2.4GHz? What difference does it make? How many devices can I connect to my WiFi?

Friends

What is a dual band router?

The easiest way to explain this is that most modern day wireless routers feature dual band wireless networks. One band operates at 2.4GHz and the other at 5GHz. During setup, the router will ask you to create a network name (SSID) and password for each band. Some WiFi routers will allow you set one name and password for both bands, but we do not recommend it. Having two names allows you to manage which devices connect to the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

What’s the Difference?

The 2.4GHz WiFi band has been a standard for a while, it offers up decent speeds but allows for a lot of coverage and range. The 5GHz WiFi band and allows for really fast WiFi speeds, but the coverage and range is weaker. Simply put 2.4GHz is for range and 5GHz is for speed. Since 2.4GHz WiFi band is so widely used, it’s a heavily congested band. This will cause issues with all devices on your network, because that band is used by other wireless routers too, so they all compete in that space. 5GHz is way less congested making it ideal for speed and more stable connections.

Which WiFi Band Should I Use?

As we stated before, when setting up your WiFi network, name 2.4Ghz and 5GHz different names. For example, wireless-2.4 and wireless-5. Now to answer the question, which one should you use? The answer is both. Having the different names, this allows you to customize which WiFi band your devices use. Giving you more control over your WiFi network and how it is used.

Examples

Now lets take a look at some examples of devices you might connect to your WiFi network and which WiFi band you should use. This list is not comprehensive. It will give you a better idea on determining which WiFi band works for your devices. The one rule we are using is the bandwidth needs of the device in question. Some devices will not support 5GHz, at which point, you have no option.

Use 2.4GHz for low bandwidth devices, such as:

  • Smart Devices
    • Speakers
    • TVs
    • Thermostats
  • Fitness devices
  • Printers & Scanners
  • Scanners

User 5GHz for high bandwidth devices, such as:

Laptops, streaming devices, security cameras, and tablets are heavy bandwidth users. But, because of range issues, those devices may need to connect the 2.4GHz WiFi band to be usable. Check out how streams or video feeds or downloads perform with these devices on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. This will help determine if range is an issue. Use the WiFi band that provides a more stable connection.

Why Not Just Use 5GHz?

When speed is a concern, then you should use the 5GHz WiFi band. Not many devices will benefit from the speed 5GHz offers.

A more technical explanation is that the more devices you connect to the 5GHz WiFi band, means the more devices that are attempting to hog more of your internet bandwidth. Say you have 10 devices connected to your 5GHz WiFi band. Now, say they are all actively transmitting and requesting data. In the end, your connections will most likely result in slower speeds for all your devices across all WiFi bands.

According to the Experts

Whenever a device connects to your Wi-Fi network, it has to fight with other devices for bandwidth (internet speed). A TV streaming Netflix, a laptop downloading, an Xbox Live gaming session — they all want the fastest connection. But there’s only so much bandwidth to go around. Your bandwidth is stretched thin, resulting in a slower connection.

Google 

However, since the router’s wireless channel is shared between all the wireless clients, adding clients will inevitably result in slower network access for all clients. This will be particularly noticeable if some of the clients are using a lot of wireless bandwidth, for example by watching a video or doing a torrent download. Therefore, the maximum number of wireless clients that will operate satisfactorily while connected to the same router will vary depending on what the devices are used for. It will also vary depending on how much wireless congestion or interference are present in the location where the router is installed.

Netgear

Final Thoughts

Not all WiFi routers are created equal. Most WiFi AC routers will have more bandwidth capabilities than WiFi N routers. You will still end up seeing slow down issues on AC devices, but the effects will be much less than that of WiFi N routers. If speed is a concern, then manage which devices use your 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi bands. If you still see some issues, look into updating your WiFi router to an AC1200 or better device.

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