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Is 5GHz Wireless better than 2.4GHz ?

Wireless computer network equipment typically uses radio signals in either a 2.4 GHz range or a 5 GHz range.

The GHz range of a wireless radio is only partially related to the speed of a wireless network. For example, 802.11a wireless operates at 5GHz and 802.11g at 2.4GHz, but both support the same maximum data rate of 54 Mbps. However, newer 802.11n and 802.11ac routers have the capability of simultaneous dual-band operation on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz ranges, allowing clients to connect on different bands for more flexibility and less interference. 802.11ac specifically expands on that, running entirely in the 5GHz band.

Advantages of 5GHz:
The 5GHz band is less likely to be congested. The 2.4GHz frequency range is much more prone to interference, as it is commonly used by other wireless networks in the area, as well as cordless phones, garage door openers and other home appliances and consumer products. The 5GHz band can also offer much higher throughput (using the right technology) with the same channel width.

Disadvantages of 5GHz:
In general, the higher the frequency of a wireless signal, the shorter its range. Thus, 2.4GHz networks cover a substantially larger range than 5GHz wireless networks. In particular, the higher frequency wireless signals of 5GHz networks do not penetrate solid objects nearly as well as 2.4GHz signals, limiting their reach inside buildings with solid walls and floors. Recent 802.11ac devices, however, are able to mitigate some of this disatvantage by using beamforming.

The Bottom Line:
5GHz and 2.4GHz are simply different frequencies, each with its advantages and disadvantages. To get the best of both worlds, some recent routers have the capability for dual-band operation in both ranges simultaneously. 5GHz offers higher throughput at a shorter distance, while 2.4GHz offers increased coverage and higher solid object penetration. Beamforming and other newer technologies allow 802.11ac to achieve cleaner signals with 5GHz in many situations where the 2.4GHz spectrum is congested. The migration to wider adoption of 5GHz will probably continue with the shift to the higher throughput 802.11ac.

Note: When choosing the band for your router, it is also important to consider the capabilities of your wireless clients. Most current laptops and other mobile wireless devices work in the 2.4GHz band, while media streaming devices have increasingly better adoption in the 5GHz band.


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by anonymous - 2012-04-08 10:44
My own opinion is that "N" series routers no matter 2.4 ghz,5 Ghz or a duel router that works on both. The issue is that although your devices may be N compliant for either 2.4 or 5. Does not mean you will see significant speed improvements. So many other issues still happen with compatibility, range, physical objects limiting signal and quality of hardware. For example many Mac laptops only support 2.4 N and not 5. Other issues include devices that were classified as Pre N standard compliant. Which means they adopted the N standard they thought would be the final. I have seen these devices perform poorly in speed. Some not much above the 54 G standard. I think we over think the advantages of N as it only really helps your local network speed. Do not think it will affect your internet speed because that is more controlled by your provider. Even G routers generally can provide speeds plenty above your internet connection speed.
In the end I find N series routers at 5Ghz better for close connections and fast speed and 2.4 Ghz routers for range, average speed and compatibility.
by Roland - 2013-02-20 23:06
The 2.4GHz band is also used by rural ISPs to provide fixed wireless service. My ISP, cavenet.com, has a 2.4GHz antenna on a tower 2.5 miles from my house. I have a 12" square panel antenna 25' up a tree that communicates with it. I don't think 5GHz could do that, especially if it's raining or snowing. Short-range local stuff should be on 5GHz.
by anonymous - 2013-05-14 15:11
The other negative to 5Ghz is the devices that support it. I have bought 2 laptops recently and neither offer 5Ghz band. The adaptors to save money I guess were only 2.4Ghz models. Actually I do have devices that support the 5Ghz band. A Apple TV and a Roku. Unfortunately neither works as well with the 5Ghz band vs the 2.4Ghz band because of the range issues. I get better throughput with the 2.4Ghz on both those devices. I highly doubt the AC Routers will take off considering their 5Ghz limitations and the fact many of those routers are expensive and their are so few devices out there yet that support it. In my personal experience the neighborhood interference with the 2.4Ghz is by far the worst issue. But given that fact a quick survey of active routers showed only 1 out of 8 even had 5Ghz band available. I question a lot about the numbers with the new N standard in wireless. I think manufactures of routers deceive consumers on its effectiveness and real world speed when faced with other wireless stations nearby. It happened in my case as I bought a duel band Netgear router (brand really does not matter). They of course advertise 300mbps speeds but fail to acknowledge that in fact when the router picks up other stations it defaults to a max of 150mbps in the 2.4Ghz band. Since that is my situation, I could have easily saved myself money buying a single band 2.4Ghz that maxed out at 150Mbps and been no further behind in speed. Its sad router makers play on the ignorance of consumers to sell them higher priced products. My broadband is rated at 25mbps down and 5mbps up. I would have had plenty of overhead with even a basic 2.4Ghz router. Buy what you need not what the marketing tells you.
by Wolferine - 2013-06-08 08:48
2.4 & 5GHz looks like they could be used together as a wireless mesh network, using 2.4GHz to connect devices, like laptops, smartphones, tablets, and security cameras, to the network, as most 802.11 [WiFi] standards are compatible with the 2.4GHz band but not the 5GHz band, and then use the 5GHz for backhauling back to a wired DSL connection to the Internet for computers or a recording and monitoring system for CCTV, for example. And because more data can be transmitted through 5GHz than through 2.4GHz, it could means that the same amount of data could be transmitted with less modules or nodes or at a higher speed using the same number of nodes, even though 5GHz has a short range than 2.4GHz but that can be mitigated somewhat with sophisticated antenna technology, especially when you consider all the other devices that emit in the 2.4GHz band and can cause interference
by honestly people - 2013-09-29 00:01
The point of a high speed network is for local connectivity. Like NAS. (Or "time capsule" for you mac fanbois) or so I can watch a video that is on a computer "A", SHARE IT OVER MY NETWORK, and watch it on phone/computer "B". And transfer files from my home computer to my laptop before a business trip. Etc... Internet =/= local network.
by treeMack - 2014-03-15 23:09
Observable evidence seems to disagree. I just got the ASus RT-ac68u and it's a dual band router, generating identifiable 2.4 and 5 ghz band wireless connections. I tested with both and the 5ghz screems!! We have multiple wireless devices in our house and the devices that recognize the 5ghz band access the internet much faster than the ones using the 2.4 band. Not all that scientific I'll admit, but that's my observation.
by Kevin - 2014-06-07 11:47
I have a 2.4 and 5 ghz gateway from comcast. It is their latest gateway router. They both are next to the same hollow drywall wall. I know this because I nicked a. whole through it to get a network cable from my gateway to my xbox one. The gateway is on a desk the xbox one is about 5!feet to the right on the floor. The desk is made out of solid cherry wood. The. Xbox one is under a tv stand made out of cheap partial board. The Xbox says I am getting the speed of 102 down and 21 up, but the Xbox says I am getting a latency of 245 that is why I made the whole through the way to hard wire it because hard wired I am getting a latency of 253. Is it the position or the gateway. I was thinking about getting a nighthawk router if that will get my latecy on the N 5 ghz range to the same or really close latency. when I has hard wired to my 6120 Motorola cable modem I was getting 105/22 and a latecy hard wired to the comcast eq I am getting varying speeds and a latency of 83. please advise if I should buy the nighthawk and write at kdconwell@comcast.net.

Thanks in Advance Kevin
by anonymous - 2014-06-21 21:04
I'm searching this topic but I just ran a speed test. 2.4ghz got 2mbs down and 5ghz got 16 mobs down... I repeated the test a few times. That doesn't seem right. I have a 2.4ghz vpn router plugged in and now I'm thinking I should get a dual band vpn router if there's that much difference. Can this be right?
by ADD - 2014-08-13 10:58
I have the same issue. 2.5 Ghz speed is very low but 5 Ghz is really fast.

I guess because we have a lot of other 2.5 ghz devices the interference causes speed reduction.
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