Recent so-called “dual band” routers make it possible to generate a wifi network on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. Discover the respective advantages of these 2 frequencies, and how to choose on which frequency to connect according to your need.

Dual band routers for more possibilities

In recent years, new wifi routers have been said to be “ dual band“.

Behind this term hides the possibility for the router to generate the wifi network on 2 different frequencies:

  • 2.4 Ghz, which is the frequency used historically for wifi
  • 5 Ghz, a new frequency that offers advantages in certain use cases.

If you have a recent box from your ISP, it is likely that you have a dual band wifi network. Likewise if you have added your own router to replace the wifi provided by your box.

In the vast majority of cases, dual band wifi takes the following form. By searching for wifi networks, you will see:

  • the name of your network Wireless
  • as well as another wifi network with the same name, with a suffix “5G” (for 5Ghz, which has nothing to do with 5G telecommunications technology which will gradually replace 4G in the years to come)

The principle of dual band remains fully relevant since the latest generation of wifi, wifi 6, will continue to be based on this concept.

2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz: a frequency difference which affects the range and the speed

The wifi works in the form of waves.

From a physical point of view, a wave is characterized by a frequency, expressed in Hertz.

Representation of waves of different frequencies.
Waves are characterized by their frequency in Hertz. In this example, the wave in red has the lowest frequency, and the wave in purple the highest.

Different frequencies give the wave different physical characteristics:

  • a higher frequency allows to have a better flow
  • a lower frequency allows a wave to better cross obstacles such as walls, objects, etc.
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Thus, the 5 Ghz wifi provides a better speed than the 2.4 Ghz, but will offer a lower range (which means that you will receive the wifi less far from the location of the router).

Here is for the theory, but in practice it is still necessary to take into account a last point.

Interference problems and the number of devices connected to 2.4 Ghz

2.4 Ghz wifi is also subject to 2 other problems:

  • this frequency, initially used for wifi, is also used by other radio equipment, such as door remote controls, etc. This can lead to signal interference, and therefore reduce the range and quality of reception of the wifi on this frequency.
  • all peripherals are compatible with 2.4 Ghz wifi, however they are not all compatible with 5 Ghz. Consequently, a 2.4 Ghz wifi network generally has a larger number of connected devices, which can cause “queuing” phenomena in communications with the router, and thus reduce response times and speeds.

In summary: how to choose the right way to connect your equipment between 2.4 and 5 Ghz wifi

The first point to look at is the use that will be made on the device.

If the use is office automation (mail, internet browsing, etc.), it is not essential to have a high speed, and you can stay on the 2.4 Ghz wifi.

If on the other hand the use requires a high flow, such as video streaming etc. (Netflix, YouTube), the 5 Ghz has all its interest. You should then check that the device is 5 GHz compatible, and that it is within the range of the 5 GHz signal of the router.

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In general, 2.4 Ghz will remain the network of choice for the majority of equipment, so as to limit the number of devices connected to 5Ghz and thus guarantee the maintenance of good flow rates on the latter.

Finally, even if you do not need a high flow rate but your reception quality is not optimal on 2.4 Ghz for one of your equipment, you can test 5 Ghz. Normally the 2.4 Ghz crosses obstacles better, but as mentioned previously it is more subject to the risk of interference with other devices.

Yes your current box is not 2.4 + 5Ghz compatible, you can also replace the box’s wifi with a recent dual band router. A good value for money currently is the (opens in a new tab)

Also, don’t forget that customizing the wifi channel on your router can greatly improve the quality of reception on your entire wifi network.

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