2.4 GHz is a WiFi frequency band on which almost all popular wireless devices work. Wireless routers, Microwave ovens, TV remotes, Cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, etc. are all part of this frequency band. In a way, you may not get congestion free WiFi network between your device and wireless router. The traffic is pretty much crowded in 2.4 GHz band. That’s why 5 GHz band came into the picture. The main difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz is higher frequency band.
But higher frequency band also means lower range and susceptible to obstructions in the network path. Let’s see 2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz in detail and understand if you really need to go for 5 GHz band wireless routers.
When 5 GHz arrived and why it was not popular in earlier days?
let me cross off the myths that are prevalent about the above debacle. The 5 GHz Wi-Fi is nothing that is cutting edge or a new update above the 2.4 GHz. In fact, it coexisted with the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi as early as 1999.
- Suggested read: Learn Different Frequency Bands in Wireless Communication
The only thing that prevented 5 GHz from taking over the market or getting as popular as the 2.4 GHz was the expensive equipment that was required to support it. The devices which supported 2.4 GHz band were readily available at low or affordable cost.
Thus, customers preferred it over 5 GHz. So, if a question arises, does 2.4 GHz have a more comprehensive reach and an early penetration advantage? Yes, it does. But this broad penetration has also led to the hurdles in the present scenario for 2.4 GHz.
Why are people now looking to shift to 5 GHz band?
The broader penetration of the 2.4 GHz network brought a plethora of devices on this band. Be it different Bluetooth devices such smart watches, mobile phones, headphones, speakers, etc. or home appliances like microwave, TV remote, etc., all these devices are on 2.4 GHz band.
As a result, you end up having too much of interference and overlapping because of overcrowded devices on the same band. Eventually, it leads to poor network communication.
On the other side, 5 GHz band is such territory which is kind of unexplored. 5 GHz has 23 available radio channels in comparison to 3 radio channels of 2.4 GHz frequency band.
So, does it have the potential to compensate and fill in for what the 2.4 GHz is not in a position to? It certainly does. But the war between this two isn’t a black and white picture which comes with such a simple decision. Also, there are different pros and cons which ultimately paint the overall picture.
Difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
Let us take a comparative study of both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz and understand the benefits and limitations based on different requirements.
A range is a maximum distance that a wireless signal can travel. Frequency is inversely proportional to distance. So, if you are looking for higher frequency wireless signal such as 5 GHz then you might have to compromise on distance or range.
On the other side, 2.4 GHz wireless signals can travel distances as they have lower frequencies than 5 GHz. High-frequency signals also find difficult to deal with obstructions such as walls, doors, bends, etc.
So, for instance, if you are purchasing a wireless router and your primary requirement is good range then you should consider 2.4 GHz band routers.
Higher frequency signals mean greater bandwidth. 5 GHz can carry data faster (bandwidth) than the 2.4 GHz. Each channel of 5 GHz has 20 MHz of bandwidth which allows for better data speeds.
Whereas the entire 2.4 GHz band is only 80 MHz in bandwidth. Under ideal conditions, 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi will support up to 450 Mbps or 600 Mbps, depending on the class of the router. On the other side, 5 GHz Wi-Fi can support up to 1300 Mbps data speed.
Since 2.4 GHz is a widely accepted wireless signal band and almost every device working on radio signals are compatible with this frequency band. On the other side, gradually manufacturers are coming up with devices which support 5 GHz band. But it is not yet fully realized.
Final words on 2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz
5 GHz and 2.4 GHz are different wireless signaling frequencies with their discussed advantages and disadvantages. Now it depends on you, how you plan to set up considering the signal transmission requirements (how distant and what obstruction forms a part of the path).
However, it can be concluded that the 5 GHz has a more definite signal with non-overlapping channels and higher speed as compared to 2.4 GHz.
If there is a requirement of higher range with penetration through a wall, 2.4 GHz is preferred, and if there are no such restrictions, 5 GHz is preferred for faster data rates or bandwidth.
Popular wireless networking standards, such as 802.11 n and 802.11 ac, are already supporting 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands.