Dual-Band Modems: Should you use 2.4GHz or 5GHz?

dual-band modemSo you have a dual-band modem. What exactly does that mean?  And how do you know when to use one over the other?  Read on to learn more.

What is the difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz?

The primary differences between the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz wireless frequencies are Range (distance) and Bandwidth (speed). While the 5GHz provides faster data rates at a shorter distance, the 2.4GHz offers coverage for farther distances, but may perform at slower speeds.

Range (distance):

How far your data can travel. In most cases, the higher the frequency of a wireless signal, the shorter its range.

  • The biggest reason for this is higher frequency signals cannot penetrate solid objects like walls and floors, as well as lower frequency signals.
  • Thus, the 2.4 GHz has a farther range than the 5 GHz frequency.
 
Bandwidth (speed):

Higher bandwidth means that files will download and upload faster and high-bandwidth applications, such as streaming video, will perform much smoother and faster.

  • Higher frequencies allow faster transmission of data, also known as bandwidth.
  • Therefore, the 5GHz, with its higher bandwidth, will provide much faster data connections than 2.4 GHz.
 
Suggestions for choosing the best frequency
  • Many devices only use the 2.4 GHz frequency, and these devices are all attempting to use the same “radio space” which can cause overcrowding of the channels.
  • The 5GHz band has 23 available channels for devices to use versus the three available on the 2.4 GHz band.
  • Overcrowding and interference can cause slower speeds and interment connectivity issues. Some examples of devices that can cause interference:
  • Microwaves
  • Cordless phones
  • Baby monitors
  • Garage door openers
 
So, which should you choose, 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz?
  • If faster speeds are most important to you, 5GHz is usually a better choice than 2.4 GHz.
    • The 5GHz band is recommended for stationary devices that are near the dual-band modem, i.e. Smart TVs and gaming consoles.
  • If the wireless range (distance) is more important to you, 2.4 GHz is usually a better choice than 5 GHz.
    • The 2GHz band is recommended for devices that are moved around the home, i.e. phones, tablets, laptops because the devices will stay connected farther away from the dual-band modem.
  • If you have numerous devices that use 2.4 GHz and you are experiencing interference or interment connectivity issues, then 5 GHz is a better option.

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