The difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi
Like many other electronics, WiFi routers use radio waves to send and receive data between devices and Internet sources. While 2.4 GHz is the standard frequency range for most wireless routers today, 5GHz offers more bandwidth than its earlier counterpart as well as less risk of interference with other electronic devices such as microwaves or cordless phones. When you choose a router that uses 5GHz frequencies, your multiple devices will be able to stream HD video content without experiencing lags in connection speed or quality that might occur if they were set up on a router using the standard 2.4 GHz band. At the same time, 5GHz networks can reduce latency – which is often referred to as “lag” – when playing online video games, or when using video chat. 2.4GHz vs 5GHz WiFi is something that all Internet users should know about before buying a wireless router.
The difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi frequencies can affect your wireless router in several different ways, depending on the capabilities of the router itself. A newer router that supports 802.11ac technology will provide higher quality service to each connected device when laying a foundation for future upgrades by offering both 2.4GHz and 5GHz support for its users’ network needs at the same time.
2.4 GHz has a shorter range and is affected by other devices transmitting the same frequency, but it is typically cheaper to manufacture and uses less power than 5 GHz.
5 GHz has a much longer range, which makes it better when covering larger areas with weak signals. It also has less interference from nearby routers using the same channel.
As the 5GHz channels have a lower frequency than those of the 2.4 GHz channel they do not travel as far as those on the latter, this would mean that in larger buildings where the router may need to reach as far as it can the 2.4 GHz channel would be more effective than those on 5GHz as they have a smaller range and are unable to travel as far, meaning that only those near the router will benefit from its connection rather than those further away.
Although the 2.4 GHz frequency has less range, it is still used in household items such as microwaves, baby monitors, cordless phones, garage door openers, and more. The 5 GHz frequency is higher quality, but with a shorter range.
2.4 GHz offers less bandwidth than its earlier counterpart as well as less risk of interference with other electronic devices such as microwaves or cordless phones. When you choose a router that uses 2.5 GHz frequencies, your multiple devices will be able to stream HD video content without experiencing lags in connection speed or quality that might occur if they were set up on a router using the standard 2.4 GHz band. At the same time, 5GHz networks can reduce latency – which is often referred to as “lag” – when playing online video, or when using video chat or voice-over IP (VoIP) apps.
Many newer households are opting for 5GHz routers to have higher quality service throughout their home or office without experiencing lags in performance that result from 2.4Ghz interference. This works well if each room in your house can reach an access point within its range and there is minimal interference from other wireless signals.
Speed but interference
Routers that use 5 GHz frequencies offer much faster speeds than 2.4 GHz routers, but they are more likely to suffer from wireless interference. For example, when streaming HD video content in your home, you might experience some stuttering if the router is situated too close to electronic devices such as microwaves or cordless phones. These types of devices often use 2.4 GHz networks because there is less chance that their signal will interfere with another device’s connection.
We can expect less interference from common household appliances such as cordless phones, microwaves, and Bluetooth devices. 5GHz Also provides better throughput speeds for non-wireless connections wired to your router such as hardwired internet connections or devices connected via ethernet cables. The 2Mbps-13Mbps spectrum used by 802.11b and 802.11g is only available on the 2.45Ghz band so 5GHz is required for these connections if you want higher connection speeds. With 802.11ac, the max speed of the 5GHz connection is 433Mbps which means even slower devices can take advantage of this frequency.
5GHz connections are capable of faster speeds but also have some trade-offs compared to 2.4GHz connections:
If you live in an area where there are many wireless networks then it is very likely that your router will choose a different channel than other routers in the area because channels overlap on 5 GHz just as they do on 2.4 GHz. This causes interference and decreases efficiency so you may find yourself restarting your router regularly if it cannot hold onto an open channel for more than 10 minutes or so without another network requesting access first (which is fairly frequent). For this reason, 5GHz is a better option for connections that are stationary or will not see a lot of interference from other signals.
The 2.4 GHz connection’s maxed speed is 300 Mbps while the 5 GHz range allows you to reach speeds up to 867 Mbps.
5GHz routers also use a more complicated transmission method called Orthogonal Frequency Divisional Multiplexing (OFDM). On the other hand, 2.4GHz uses a simpler and older technology called Complementary Code Keying (CCK).
5GHz frequency usually penetrates walls and objects a bit less efficiently than the 2.4 GHz range because it has shorter wavelengths, which means that more power is required to gain similar coverage. This can be either an advantage or disadvantage depending on the size and layout of your home – if you have many thick concrete walls then increasing power on your network may be necessary but if you don’t want to bother with routers in every corner of your house then 2.4 GHz might suit you better.
2.4GHz can penetrate solid objects a bit easier than 5 GHz because it has slightly longer wavelengths [than 5 GHz], meaning that more power is required to gain similar coverage.
2.4 GHz is less crowded, which means that it is faster for transferring data between devices in your home or office, but it also can allow you to experience better connections if there are many other networks nearby that are using the same channel as you. Your devices may connect at a slower speed on 5 GHz if they do not support this frequency band.
If you have an 802.11ac-compatible laptop and smartphone then you should be fine with either 2.4GHz or 5 GHz, however, older laptops may only support 2.4GHz wireless so these would be more likely to experience slow connections if connected to the faster 5GHz network – this is especially true if there are a lot of other wireless networks nearby because these will be taking up the 2.4 GHz channel range too.
What are the benefits of each frequency?
If you have very fast internet speeds, especially fibre broadband with over 100MB download speeds, then the 5GHz frequency would be best for you to use. But if you are in an area where many wireless networks operate on the 2.4GHz frequency then it is advised to only use this network if your router supports changing between frequencies or if you have a dual-band router that offers both bands giving you the flexibility of using whichever band suits your needs at that time.
Why is this important to know before buying a new router?
Before buying a new wireless router it’s highly recommended that you check what frequency your broadband speed runs at and purchase one that has support for either 2.4GHz and 5GHz (or preferably both) as most routers nowadays offer support for each – this means they are dual-band routers.
The difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi is that they are two different frequencies so this means they can not be used simultaneously without interference therefore, your router’s support for each of these frequencies will have an effect on which frequency you choose to use when setting up a wireless network in your home or office.
As mentioned previously, lower frequencies can pass through walls much better than their higher frequency counterparts so if your building is made up of thick walls or you want coverage for an outhouse where there may not be a signal from a nearby tower this would mean that the lower frequency channels would be perfect for giving an adequate signal throughout the whole property. The larger amount of congested signals present on 2.4GHz means that if one is being used by another source then it is quite likely that it won’t work at all, whereas this isn’t as much of a problem with the 5GHz band because there is less traffic.
In summary, 2.4GHz provides a shorter range and more signal interference, but it doesn’t have to compete with as many routers for channels in the same area. 5GHz provides a longer range and less signal interference but requires a relatively clear line of sight between devices and access points. If you live in an apartment with dozens of other people (I’m guessing this is where most people will want to use wireless internet) then 2.4GHz may be better since it has a shorter range but more channels, which means there’s less chance of two routers both running on channel 6 for example.
If you are unsure which WiFi router to get or if you are facing a lot of interference and frequent disconnects, just call our wifi technician and we will fix all your WiFi woes!