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New Wi-Fi routers are faster and more versatile than ever. One important feature makes it possible for the router to send data over two different radio frequencies or "bands." These are a 2.4GHZ band and a 5GHz band. Routers that use both of these frequencies are "dual-band" routers.
To get the most out of your dual-band router, you have to understand the benefits and limitations of each frequency.
When the first Wi-Fi routers were released, this was the only frequency used to send and receive data. The advantage to a 2.4GHz frequency is that is can transmit a strong signal over a large area in your home. It can penetrate solid objects like walls and floors, allowing you to maintain a strong Wi-Fi connection further away from your router.
The downside of the 2.4GHz frequency is that is has become more and more crowded. The 2.4GHZ band provides fewer channels than the 5GHz band, resulting in additional interference from other Wi-Fi routers located nearby. Your 2.4GHz band can also experience interference from many household items such as microwave ovens, cordless phones, wireless speakers, Bluetooth devices, and baby monitors.
The other downside is that the maximum speeds offered by 2.4GHz are typically lower than 5 GHz. The bottom line: 2.4GHz is good for distance from your router, but not ideal for the fastest speeds.
New Wi-Fi routers have a 5GHz frequency to provide faster speeds and limit the impact of interference from other devices. With an additional frequency (band) available, dual-band routers can handle much more traffic. 5GHz also supports much faster speeds than the 2.4GHz.
Devices and applications that use the most bandwidth generally perform better on the 5GHz frequency for this reason. There are also more channels in the 5GHz band, which reduces interference. The drawback is that the 5GHz band can't broadcast its Wi-Fi signal as far as the 2.4GHz frequency.
The bottom line: 5GHz is best for fast speeds when you're close to your router, but not ideal for distance as it cannot penetrate the walls and floors in your home.
If you're not getting the best Wi-Fi performance on your device, you may be able to solve issues by switching between the 2.4 & 5GHz frequencies or upgrading to a dual-band router.