After the introduction of the 2.4GHz band in the 1990s, only a few types of devices that used this frequency band became commercially available for the consumer. The 2.4GHz band made internet connectivity easier until the era when almost all wireless devices manufactured were compatible with the frequency band. Devices like the cordless phones and Bluetooth devices took advantage of the unlicensed 2.4 GHz frequency band making the limited wireless spectrum congested.
A solution to the congested 2.4GHZ band for you could be the 5GHz frequency band, that is less prone to interference and has more channels to use. However, there are still far fewer compatible devices with 5GHz: In other words, when your friends want to connect to WiFI network, the card in their PC or tablet or phone is 2.4GHz, so they would be out of luck.
So there is an interim solution for you before you abandon your 2.4GHz access point: Upgrade your antenna and consider using a directional rather than omnidirectional, if your space will allow that. To connect the new antenna to your router (access point): Connect an RP-SMA extension cable between the two devices. The length of the cable should be as short as possible to prevent signal loss (signal leaks out through the cable).
It’s likely that the congestion in 2.4GHz will cause a mass migration of wireless devices to the new 5GHz band – especially with the emergence of the 802.11ac standard that supports only the 5GHz band. This transition will definitely de-congest the 2.4GHz band.
All WiFi routers for home, small office, or hotspots, utilize either the 5GHz or 2.4GHz frequency band. The two frequency bands are not related to the speed of the network. For example, the 802.11g operates at 2.4GHz band while the 802.11a works with the 5GHz band but both have maximum speeds of 54Mbps. Some latest routers are capable of utilizing both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands such routers are called “dual band routers”.
Merits of the 5GHz frequency band
- No interference from nearby devices like the microwave ovens, alarm systems, bay monitors and wireless speakers that use the 2.4GHz frequency band.
- Less crowding by other networks due to the many channels that are available in the 5GHz frequency band.
Down side of the 5 GHz frequency band
- Limited range as compared to the 2.4GHZ band
- Higher cost and non compatible to most devices
- Inability to penetrate obstructions like metal walls and wooden walls
Merits of the 2.4GHz band
- Has a wider coverage range
- Has a better penetration power through walls and other physical barriers
- Supported by all WiFi devices
Down side of the 2.4GHz band
- Prone to congestion because of the few channels it has
- Gets interference from Bluetooth devices, microwave ovens and baby monitors that operate in the same frequency
Following the merits and demerits of the 5GHZ and the 2.4GHz frequency bands, networking administrators should make use of the dual band by following the following rues for the design of dual band networks.
- Standardize the 5GHz band for clients running important applications
- Utilize the band steering technique to move users to the 5GHz frequency bands while avoiding any possibility of congesting them
- Support the 2.4GHz for guest access and corporate applications
The 2.4GHz and the 5GHz are different frequency bands offering dissimilar merits and demerits. To get the most out of the two, you should purchase routers which are capable of utilizing both bands. Careful planning for Wi-Fi networks extends the usefulness of a number of wireless devices over the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands.