WiFi routers can transmit data over different radio frequencies known as “bands.” For instance, Dual-band WiFi routers can send data over a 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz band. Compared to a single-band (2.4 GHz) WiFi router, a dual-band router can provide a better user experience due to the availability of an extra band. It is crucial to understand the basics of different bands when comparing WiFi routers.
Let’s start by examining the 2.4 GHz radiofrequency, which is used for single-band WiFi. The first generation of WiFi routers could only transmit data over one radio frequency, the 2.4 GHz band. The significant advantage of using a single-band WiFi router is that it can transmit power signals over a more extensive area. In this case, the router sends and receives data over the same band.
2.4 GHz Single Band WiFi
In the first generation of WiFi routers, data could only be transmitted over a single radio frequency – the 2.4 GHz band. The most significant advantage of using a single-band WiFi router is the transmission of powerful signals that can penetrate most solid objects, including walls and floors, covering a larger area compared to a dual-band router. However, using a 2.4 GHz WiFi network may result in weaker signals or frequent disconnections.
One drawback of using a single band router is the increased susceptibility to interference from various devices such as cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, microwave ovens, wireless speakers, and baby monitors. This interference ultimately hampers the speed and performance.
Speaking of speed, a 2.4GHz network typically provides practical speeds of less than 100 MB/s. This issue becomes especially noticeable when multiple devices try to stream HD videos or engage in online gaming, two popular activities for smartphones in this day and age.
5GHz Dual Band WiFi
The latest generation of WiFi routers is dual-band and has the added advantage of a 5 GHz frequency band alongside the traditional 2.4 GHz band. This upgrade allows dual-band routers to avoid device interference and maintain fast speeds.
One of the benefits of dual-band routers is their ability to handle significant traffic without significantly compromising speed and performance. While 2.4 GHz WiFi routers usually support speeds ranging from 450 MB/s to 600 MB/s, dual-band routers are labeled with speeds of up to 2167 MB/s.
In practical terms, the best speed achievable with 2.4 GHz WiFi is approximately 100 MB/s, while dual-band routers can be around four times faster. Furthermore, the availability of an extra band enables dual-band routers to provide stable speeds to multiple connected devices.
An additional advantage of dual-band routers is that they can avoid interference from devices that may be in the vicinity since the number of channels on the 5 GHz band is greater than that of the 2.4 GHz band.
However, dual-band routers also have some disadvantages. Firstly, they send weaker signals with a shorter range compared to the signals of a single band router. 5 GHz dual-band WiFi is not good at penetrating through walls and floors, and the signals fade quickly as you move further away from the router.
How Does Dual Band WiFi Work?
Dual-band WiFi provides two frequency bands for connected devices, and the selection of the band depends on the device’s compatibility. When a smartphone connects to dual-band WiFi, the networking configuration of the device determines whether it will use the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band.
New smartphones typically default to the 2.4 GHz band, even though the 5 GHz band offers more channels. Users may need to manually switch to the 5 GHz frequency setting for faster speeds. If a smartphone supports it and is connected to a dual-band WiFi router, it will automatically switch from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz when experiencing slow speeds.
In certain cases, dual-band WiFi routers decide which band to assign to connected devices. These routers monitor the traffic levels on the 2.4 GHz band and direct devices to the 5 GHz band if the traffic becomes too congested. This process is commonly referred to as “band steering.” However, please note that band steering only works for devices that support the 5 GHz band. Single-band WiFi devices will remain connected to the 2.4 GHz band.
What is MU-MIMO?
The Multi-User – Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) technology is a feature found in newer generation dual band WiFi routers. This feature is not available in first-generation dual band routers. The MU-MIMO technology enables a dual band WiFi router to focus on multiple devices simultaneously.
Older routers without MU-MIMO are not able to pay attention to multiple devices at the same time, leading to speed drops and unstable connections. With the introduction of MU-MIMO technology, a stable connection and speed across multiple connected devices can be maintained.
Tri-band WiFi is the next step in WiFi technology, with an additional 5 GHz frequency band alongside the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands found in dual band routers. The additional 5 GHz frequency band allows for faster speeds. Tri-band routers use three data highways, one 2.4 GHz and two 5 GHz bands, allowing more data to travel simultaneously.
Tri-band WiFi is recommended for offices with five or more devices connected to the router that require constant high bandwidth.
Why Upgrade to Dual Band WiFi?
In 2020, many families spent an extended period of time at home and came to the realization that traditional 2.4 GHz WiFi could not support multiple devices using the internet simultaneously. The popularity of streaming apps and multiplayer games led to sudden drops in internet speeds, resulting in frustration. The limitations of single-band WiFi made it impossible to handle high-bandwidth demands from multiple devices.
Dual-band WiFi and its latest variations have become increasingly necessary for modern households. They provide a faster, uninterrupted connection that reduces stress and frustration. Although going off-grid may be a temporary solution, it is not a permanent one as we live in a hyper-connected world of virtual communication and entertainment.
In summary, while dual-band WiFi has weaker signals and a smaller range than single-band WiFi, it is still a superior option overall, as long as your devices support 5 GHz. So, why not enjoy a more comfortable and relaxed experience in our online world?