Most people know that wireless computer networks use radio signals in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz range. But what are the main differences between these two types of Wi-Fi signals and how can you choose the best frequency? Read this article and you will discover all the needed information.
One of the key differences between the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz wireless frequencies is the signal range. Believe it or not, the old 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi signal can travel larger distances in comparison with the newer 5 GHz. How is that possible? Radio waves lose their strength much faster when the frequency is high.
Take FM radio stations, for example. They are only used as local stations because they are unable to cover areas above 100 miles or so. For cross-country radio, nothing beats AM radios, which operate using a much lower frequency.
But don’t let the previous paragraphs discourage you – 5GHz frequencies have their strengths as well! With 2.4 GHz frequencies, the signal is prone to more interference. Why is that happening? The 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi signal has only 3 non-overlapping channels, whereas the 5 GHz wireless signal has 23 non-overlapping channels.
Beside this, there are several other devices like microwave ovens that make use of the same 2.4 GHz frequency. Most microwave ovens emit radiations around them, although they are not supposed to do so. Not only are these emissions harmful to people’s health, but they also negatively impact the 2.4 GHz spectrum. Besides microwave ovens, many cordless phones, baby monitors and even garage door remote controls will also have an impact on the speed of your 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connection.
This means that when you have to choose between the two Wi-Fi frequencies, you should also consider the number of devices that operate at 2.4 GHz and are close to your router.
As a conclusion, the 5 GHz wireless frequency loses some of its power when it has to go through solid objects in comparison with 2.4 GHz. This explains why 2.4 GHz frequencies are a much better choice when the Wi-Fi signal has to travel longer distances, passing through walls and other solid objects. As an added bonus, you can easily add an external 2.4GHz antenna using a U.FL to RP-SMA cable.
On the other hand, 5 GHz Wi-Fi signals are considered to be a better option in areas without obstacles. With 5 GHz, the signal range may not be that great, but the data speed is significantly higher. This means that the bandwidth is higher, so your data will be uploaded and downloaded a lot faster. In a nutshell, the 5 GHz frequency provides a faster data connection.
The good news is that many modern routers can operate on both frequencies, allowing you to get the benefits of both worlds.