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Difference Between 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Wireless

2.4Ghz vs 5Ghz Wireless

The gradual inclusion of WiFi-N adapters in new laptops and the proliferation of wireless-N routers, some people are beginning to wonder whether it is better to use the 2.4Ghz or the 5Ghz frequencies, which are supported by the standard. The primary difference between the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wireless frequencies is range as the 2.4Ghz frequency is able to reach farther than the 5Ghz frequency. This is a result of the basic characteristics of waves that decay much faster at higher frequencies. So if you want the maximum coverage, you should stay with 2.4Ghz rather than going with 5Ghz.

The second difference is the number of devices on those frequencies. Because the older Wifi-G standard only uses the 2.4Ghz frequency, majority of the world is on it. 2.4Ghz also fewer channel options with only three of them non-overlapping; a lot less when you consider that 5Ghz has 23 non-overlapping channels. Using 2.4Ghz can be a problem if you live in a very crowded area with a lot of people using Wifi as it can affect the speed of your own network. If there are more than three wireless networks in your area, chances are you are overlapping, or worse on the same channel, with one of them. To aggravate the problem even further, a lot of other devices are also on the 2.4Ghz frequencies; the biggest offenders are microwaves and cordless phones. These devices add noise to the medium that can further decrease the speed of wireless networks. In both aspects, choosing to deploy on the 5Ghz frequency is the much better option as you have more channels to use to isolate yourself from other networks and there are far fewer interference sources.

Although using 5Ghz is far better in many aspects, the number of Wifi-G devices nowadays means that it is probably impractical to implement a 5Ghz only network. There are also Wifi-N devices that only use the 2.4Ghz frequency and not the 5Ghz. Most Wifi-N routers are able to deploy on both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequencies to maximize compatibility. But, if you only have Wifi-N devices that support the 5Ghz frequency, it is better to have a 5Ghz only network.

Summary:

  1. 5Ghz has a shorter range compared to 2.4Ghz
  2. The 2.4Ghz frequency is way more crowded than the 5Ghz channel
  3. Devices on 2.4Ghz suffer a lot more interference than devices on 5Ghz
  4. Fewer devices are capable of using the 5Ghz channel than the 2.4Ghz channel

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