The Pros and Cons of Choosing a 5 GHz WiFi Band For Your Business
What is 5 ghz wifi?
5 GHz Wi-Fi is the latest generation of Wi-Fi, the wireless networking technology that allows devices to connect to the internet. 5 GHz Wi-Fi is faster and has more range than 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi.
What are Frequency Bands?
Have you ever wondered how different wireless-enabled devices like mobile phones and radios function without interfering with each other? It's not rocket science. Their wireless signal transmission relies on different frequency bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, making them coexist without causing much chaos. Frequency bands define the electromagnetic spectrum and regulate the energy transmitted over electromagnetic waves.
Frequency bands are the set of radio wave frequencies, ranging from a low to a high frequency range, via which Wifi signals are broadcast. A higher frequency means faster data transmission and a shorter signal range. Various telecommunication applications use different frequency bands in the electromagnetic spectrum.
Most of us are familiar with two main frequency bands on which most Wifi devices operate- 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, but there are many other Wifi frequency bands also available that can be used for different purposes. The 2.4 GHz band is the most commonly used Wifi for home and office networks, offering good range and performance. However, the 5 GHz band has become increasingly popular for newer devices because it offers higher speeds and less interference from other devices that use the 2.4 GHz band (such as microwave ovens).
Most routers support both frequencies, but some older routers only support the 2.4 GHz frequency band. In addition, newer dual-band routers can provide two separate wireless networks for each frequency band -- a feature that can come in handy if many devices are using the network simultaneously.
5 Features of a 5 Ghz Wifi Band
The 5 GHz wi fi band is a popular electromagnetic spectrum for wireless communication, and its frequencies range from 5.15 GHz to 5.85 GHz. It is also known as a centimeter band because its wavelength is measurable in centimeters. The key features of the 5 GHz wi fi band include-
- Availability of more non-overlapping channels- The 5 GHz wi-fi band offers 24 non-overlapping 20 MHz channels, which reduces interference among devices and offers stable signals. Wider channels support more data bandwidth-demanding applications, such as streaming HD audio/ video content, online gaming, uninterrupted multi-user high-speed virtual meetings, etc.
- Less clogging- Since fewer devices are equipped with advanced features that let them operate on the 5 GHz band, it is faster and less prone to data traffic. The 5 GHz band is not as crowded as the 2.4 GHz band. For example, most home appliances like cordless phones and microwave ovens operate on the 2.4 GHz frequency.
- Faster speed and more capacity- A 5 GHz connection can offer speeds up to three times faster than a 2.4 GHz connection. The 5 GHz frequency band has a higher frequency and a lower wavelength. Moreover, users can achieve much higher speeds on the 5 GHz band than on the 2.4GHz band by using channel bonding and increasing channel size with multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technology. More devices can be connected to a 5 GHz network without any decrease in speed, making it ideal for large households or offices with multiple users.
- Enhanced security- The 5 GHz band is compatible with the latest 802.11ac wireless standard, which offers enhanced security and improved performance compared to older standards like 802.11n (which only works on the 2.4 GHz Wifi bands), making it more difficult for unauthorized users to access your network.
- Compatibility with new technologies- Many emerging technologies that use higher data speeds are more compatible with the 5 GHz band as it provides a faster Internet Service experience.
6 Features of a 2.4 GHz Band
A 2.4 GHz Wifi band is a radio frequency range in the Unlicensed Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) spectrum. Used by many household devices such as microwave ovens, garage door openers, and cordless phones, this range provides good coverage and relatively high speeds. The 2.4 GHz frequency band spans a frequency range from 2.4 to just under 2.5 GHz and is the most commonly used frequency for wireless networking. Its key features include-
- Greater range- The 2.4GHz band wifi transmits strong signals over large areas that can travel up to several kilometers due to their relatively long wavelength. Its longer range makes it more suitable for large offices and homes. If you move away from the router, the network's quality remains almost the same. It makes the 2.4 GHz band well suited for point-to-point link applications such as outdoor WiFi hotspots.
- Lower costs, widely acceptable, and easy to set up- A 2.4 GHz band typically requires lower infrastructure costs than other frequency bands, making it an attractive option for many organizations. It has a very wide frequency range that can accommodate many different devices. This band is also relatively easy to use and set up, making it a great choice for those unfamiliar with radio frequencies.
- Interference-free operation- The 2.4 GHz band is typically free from interference from other electronic devices such as computers or cell phones. Due to the relatively narrow bandwidths used by these devices (usually 1MHz or less), they generally do not cause significant interference to wifi networks operating on the 2.4GHz band.
- Unlicensed spectrum- 2.4 GHz is the upper limit of the unlicensed ISM (Industrial, Scientific, and Medical) band, and anyone can use it without prior authorization from the government.
- Good penetration- 2.4 GHz waves have good penetrating ability and can get through through walls, solid objects, and other obstacles better than higher frequency waves, making it ideal for applications that need to communicate over long distances or in difficult terrain.
- Support for Channel Bonding and MIMO antenna- Three non-overlapping channels are available in the 2.4 GHz bands - 1, 6, and 11. Bonding two channels together double the theoretical maximum speed from 54Mbps to 108Mbps. The 2.4 GHz frequency band supports the multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) antennae that increase data throughput and range by using multiple antennas to transmit and receive data.
Why Should You Worry About Frequency Bands?
Frequency bands are central to Wifi networks. They dictate how much space your signal occupies and how susceptible it is to interference. The wider the bandwidth, the more data you can send (and receive) per second. Narrower bandwidths are more resistant to interference, but can't carry much data.
Different internet-enabled devices operate on different frequency bands, and if your receiver and transmitter are not matched, you won't be able to get a signal. That's why it's important to know which frequency band your single or dual band router uses and ensure that your laptop, tablets, printer, etc., are compatible with it.
If you run a digital marketing agency or manage Restaurant Operations, it's important to know the availability of different frequency bands in your area. Different frequency bands can impact your connection's speed and reliability and affect your enterprise's productivity. For example, some restaurant POS (point-of-sale) systems, display units, and cooking equipment work specifically on the 2.4 GHz frequency band, and some are compatible with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. In some cases, it may be necessary to hire a consultant to help you determine which frequencies will work best for your needs.
Pros and Cons of the 5 GHz Band
Many wireless routers use the term "5GHz", which could be confusing if you are a new user. It is one of the major Wifi frequencies in use today. Here are some points you should know about 5 GHz Wifi before making a decision about whether to use it or not.
- No Interference from other devices- The biggest advantage of 5 GHz over 2.4 GHz is that interference from other devices isn't a problem. There are more available non-overlapping channels in the 5 GHz band (24 non-overlapping channels) than in the 2.4 GHz band (only three non-overlapping channels). That means that if you're using a device on the 5 GHz band, you're less likely to experience interference from other devices using Wifi.
- Less crowding than other networks- The 5 GHz band provides better performance due to fewer devices trying to use up the available space on this frequency. It leaves more room for streaming and gaming, with reduced lag or interference from other people in your vicinity also trying to use the same wavelength.
- Radiofrequency range- The 5 GHz band is a radio frequency range within the electromagnetic spectrum. The 5 GHz band is one of multiple bands available for wireless networking. It is often used in areas with heavy network traffic, such as office buildings or densely populated neighborhoods.
- Carries more data- The advantage of using the 5 GHz band over other frequencies is its ability to carry more data. The 5 GHz frequency can support more available channels than lower frequencies.
- Better speed- People mainly want to use 5 GHz because it offers more speed. The 5 GHz network will usually have fewer devices connected to it and therefore be able to offer faster speeds. It can operate at up to 1.3 Gbps.
- Dynamic management of traffic- The Access Point (AP) in 5 GHz Wifi networks dynamically changes channels to avoid interference. There are 24, 20 Mhz non-overlapping channels in the 5GHz band, which makes the chances almost negligible that those two APs will be on the same channel at once.
- Increased power requirements- The 5 GHz signals require more power than signals in the 2.4 GHz band, so your device may need a stronger battery or an external power source to function properly.
- Shorter range and higher susceptibility to the weather- The 5 GHz range does not travel as far as lower frequencies, so it may not be ideal for large homes or businesses. Additionally, walls and other obstacles block signals in the 5 GHz range more easily than lower frequencies and are more susceptible to interference from weather conditions. If you need to cover a large area with your Wifi signal, you'll want to use the 2.4 GHz band instead of the 5 GHz band.
- More expensive equipment- The 5 GHz wifi band needs more expensive equipment to function well than 2.4 GHz Wifi, because 5 GHz Wifi uses higher frequencies and requires very specific and comparatively more expensive components. Moreover, 5 GHz Wifi is relatively new. So availability of components is not always easy, compared to 2.4 GHz supporting devices.
You need to consider what you need from your wireless network. If you have devices that need to be connected simultaneously with no interference, 5 GHz may be right up your street. However, if range is more important to you than speed, or if you have many devices connecting to your network, 2.4 GHz may still be the better option for you. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which frequency will work best for your business and devices.
How Do You Decide Which Frequency Band is Better For Your Business
Despite its shorter range, the 5 GHz frequency band offers faster speeds than the 2.4 GHz frequency band, which travels farther at lower speeds. The choice of frequency depends on the usage of your Wifi connection. After carefully considering your business Wifi requirements and objectives, you have to decide which frequency suits your needs in the best possible way. Here are key factors to consider-
- Deciding the right frequency for your business establishment is a process that involves understanding your customer's buying pattern. How often do customers come to your store or restaurant and purchase your product or service, how often do you need to communicate with them, and what budget do you have for marketing and promotions? Once you know all these details, you can make a well-thought-out call depending on the bandwidth requirement of the Wifi network.
- Another important factor to consider is the Wifi range you need to cover, i.e., the area of your office building or foodcourt of your restaurant. If you have a large space, you will need a router and boosters that can broadcast on a higher frequency to reach all corners of the office.
- Your restaurant's activity level and the number of devices using the Wifi at any given time are also factors to consider. If you have many people working close to each other, you'll want a higher frequency router to handle all traffic.
- It would be best to consider the devices connecting to your Wifi network. Some devices, such as laptops and smartphones, can connect to both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks, while others, such as older laptops and printers, can only connect to 2.4 GHz networks.
How to Change Frequency Bands on Your Router
Most new routers operate on two frequency bands, the 2.4 GHz band, and the 5 GHz band. If your router has external antennas, you may be able to change the wireless frequency band by selecting a different channel on the router's web setup page. The 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies are crowded with competing signals from other devices, so changing to a less-congested channel may improve your Wifi performance.
You can change your Wifi frequency band on your dual band router by accessing its settings page. Go to your router's admin page. Ensure your router is compatible and has the right frequency capability for your specific model. Whether you choose a 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz Wifi connection, ensure that the wireless option is enabled on your modem/router and set it to the same frequency.
Look for the section labeled 'Wireless' and select the option that says Channel and SSID. Next, you will be prompted with a drop-down menu of Wifi frequencies. Choose the one that you want and save it.
In the case of a dual-band router, you have two networks (SSIDs) that appear in your network list, with identical names, except for a 2.4G or 5G at the end of it. You can then connect all your internet-enabled devices individually to any of these Wifi networks. A dual-band router changes its setting to transmit at both frequency signals simultaneously.
Remember that changing the wireless band won't necessarily give you better performance, but it may help if you're experiencing interference from other devices that use the same frequency band (e.g., cordless phones, microwaves, etc.).