Should I Connect to 5GHz?
Interference: we deal with it every day – and it can be oh so frustrating.
Your favorite football team makes a game-saving defensive stop on the last play to win the big game. But wait . . . a referee throws a flag for pass interference.
You're all set to bask in the tropical warmth of a well-deserved Tahitian vacation in the dead of winter. But wait . . . your flight is delayed by a snow and ice storm that is causing weather interference.
You're finally getting the whole family together for a fun night featuring your favorite pizza restaurant and that new movie you've been waiting to see forever. But wait . . . your mom-in-law doesn't like pizza or that new movie and family night is unexpectedly cancelled by her interference.
So what does all this frustrating talk about interference have to do with whether you should connect to 5GHz (gigahertz)? Read on to learn more.
Understanding internet signal interference.
As related to physics, Webster's Dictionary defines interference as "the combination of two or more electromagnetic wave forms that form a resultant wave in which the displacement is either reinforced or canceled." Wait . . . what?!
Let's try to make this a bit more simple. Your internet signal is sent with radio waves through the air and are sometimes susceptible to outside interference. Here's what the FCC has to say:
“Interference occurs when unwanted radio frequency signals disrupt the use of your internet connection, television, radio or cordless telephone. Interference may prevent reception altogether, may cause only a temporary loss of a signal, or may affect the quality of the sound or picture produced by your equipment. The two most common causes of interference are transmitters and electrical equipment.”1
With all due respect to the FCC, we believe that when it comes to internet signal interference, there are actually three primary culprits:
- Transmitter interference caused by things like baby monitors and certain cell phone connections.
- Electrical interference caused by things like home appliances and garage door openers.
- Solid objects like furniture, floors, ceilings and walls.
What do all of these forms of interference have in common? Almost all transmitter and electrical forms of interference operate on the popular 2.4GHz band frequency which has the most traffic as opposed to the lesser used 5GHz band. Let's take a closer look at how each of these frequency bands operates.
The difference between 5GHz bands and 2.4GHZ bands.
Most modern routers feature a dual band router that includes a 2.4GHz WiFi setting and a 5GHz network setting. These radio frequency settings determine how your wireless signal will be transmitted.
When it comes to 5GHz bands and 2.4GHz bands, the differences are found in range and bandwidth. For example, 2.4GHz offers coverage for farther distances but typically performs at lowers speeds, while 5GHz transmits data faster but at shorter distances.
So 2.4GHz is the WiFi standard and has a longer range which means the signal it transmits is capable of penetrating solid objects such as furniture, walls and floors although its lower bandwidth signal travels at slower speeds than the higher frequency 5GHz. It can also reach many WiFi devices through the WiFi network with strong data rates, including laptops, smartphones and tablets.
The 2.4GHz frequency and 2.4GHz WiFi frequency have three available channels which can sometimes cause signal overloads and slower signal speeds.
The 5GHz frequency has a shorter range which means its signal cannot penetrate solid objects and will probably reach fewer devices but has a higher bandwidth signal that travels faster than 2.4GHz.
The 5GHz band has 23 available channels which can help to alleviate overcrowding issues and allow you to avoid slowdowns and delays through your wireless network
So which is the right choice for you: the 2.4GHz band or the 5GHz band?
You should choose the 5GHz WiFi band if:
- Faster speeds are important to you and you are able to keep your wireless router in relatively close proximity to the internet ready devices you will be using.
- You have many appliances and devices that use the 2.4GHz band and continually experience interference with your WiFi frequency and wireless devices.
You should choose the 2.4GHz WiFi band if:
- Wireless range is important to you and you are not as concerned with faster data for the number of devices you use for accessing the internet.
- You have a larger home or office that requires your WiFi router and WiFi connection to be at a relatively great distance from access points to your internet ready devices.
Interesting Fact: The Most Famous Non-Use Of A Radio
So now that you understand that your internet connection and WiFi signal are largely transmitted by radio waves, consider this story about the most famous NON-use of a radio signal in history.
When Charles Lindbergh was attempting to become the first solo pilot to complete a trans-Atlantic flight, he was instrumental in helping to design the Spirit of St. Louis, a unique airplane built by the Ryan Flying Company in San Diego, California. (Lindbergh named his plane in tribute to a group of St. Louis businessmen who helped to fund the project.)
Lindbergh demanded that the plane only be equipped with the bare necessities - and one of those was fuel. He instructed the airplane's designers to maximize fuel capacity while keeping the plane as lightweight as possible and that meant NOT including a leather seat - he simply added an old wicker chair. This also meant that he would carry NO parachute or have a radio on board! Skeptics called him "the flying fool."
With no means to abandon the plane in the air or communicate with the outside world, Lindbergh was truly alone on his 33 hour flight from New York City to Paris. Without the radio to talk to anyone during his journey, Lindbergh said that he sometimes flew low and dipped the wheels of his plane in the Atlantic to create ocean spray through his open cockpit window and keep himself awake!
After successfully completing his flight and becoming a worldwide hero, Lindbergh was ironically interviewed and featured on the most popular communication device of the day – the radio.2
The choice is yours.
If you have a dual-band router, you can choose between the 2.4 GHz band and 5GHz band setting. The choice is yours based on your specific needs and WiFi network configuration. We hope this information proves helpful.
Suddenlink: The best way to stay connected.
As one of America’s leading internet service providers (ISP), Suddenlink has everything you need to stay connected to the things you enjoy most in the world around you. Our internet service offerings are second to none.
You can get internet speeds from 400 megabits per second (Mbps) with our cable internet packages. Or choose Altice One for fiber internet that uses fiber optic technology to deliver the fastest possible internet signals at speeds up to 1 Gbps (gigabits per second).
Plus, Altice One wireless routers feature a dual-band that uses both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Now that you understand the differences, you can choose which option is right for you!