Quick show of hands: Who can tell me the difference between the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz option on your home router/network? No cheating!
OK – here’s the lowdown: 2.4 and 5GHz refer to two different ‘bands’ your wireless router can use for its signal. The biggest difference between the two is speed.
Under ideal conditions, 2.4 GHz wireless will support up to 500Mbps, give or take. Yet 5GHz wireless will support up to 1,300Mbps.
Now for some VERY real numbers…
I used my very own computer, running Windows 10 Professional, as a test bed.
I used a USB wireless adapter (Cisco AE6000, $32 at BestBuy), then connected to the 2.4GHz on my home wireless network. My download speed was 36.50Mbps – or 36.5 million bytes per second. Think of it this way – 36.5Mbps is equivalent to downloading a full CD every two seconds.
Next, I connected to my 5GHz wireless network. Get this – my 5GHz network was SLOWER than my 2.4GHz network – 28.7Mbps
Keep in mind – results vary from router to router, PC to PC, even cell phones vary regarding speed.
The 2.4GHz band is VERY crowded. Old cordless phones, garage door openers, baby monitors, even most Bluetooth devices use the 2.4GHz band. Still, the longer wavelengths used by the 2.4GHz means 2.4GHz is better suited for longer ranges and passing through walls. So, if you need longer range or you have a lot of walls between your router and your wireless device(s), consider the 2.4GHz option. Just keep in mind because so many devices use 2.4GHz, the resulting traffic jam can cause dropped connections and slower than expected speeds.
If you’re having trouble with your 5GHz connection, try connecting to your 2.4GHz connection and see what happens.