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I have basically the following setup:

  • It's a home network, running with a Netgear WNDR3700 wireless router.
  • Wireless Devices on the Network:
    • Google Nexus One: 802.11 b/g/n
    • iPhone (Original): 802.11 b/g
    • Main Workstation Laptop: 802.11 a/b/g (it might support n, but on the docs for the Intel 5100, it only says a/b/g)
    • "Beater/Other" Laptop: 802.11g b/g
  • Ethernetted devices on the network:
    • Logitech Revue: CAT-5e
  • I'm running both the 2.4 GHz and the 5.0 GHz networks over the same SSID.

The goal, obviously, is to get everything over to N if possible. I've heard that wireless N has much better signal and transfer rates, is this true?

Also, is running the two different frequencies with the same SSID problematic? It's kind of strange, because my Nexus One is having a difficult time staying connected to the network in my office while the main workstation laptop in the same room is getting a much better signal.

Here's the output of iwconfig from both the laptop and the phone:

Nexus One:

eth0      IEEE 802.11-DS  ESSID:"Network-ID"  Nickname:""
          Mode:Managed  Frequency:2.437 GHz  Access Point: $$:$$:$$:$$:$$:$$   
          Bit Rate=26 Mb/s   Tx-Power:32 dBm   
          Retry min limit:7   RTS thr:off   Fragment thr:off
          Encryption key:off
          Power Managementmode:All packets received
          Link Quality=1/5  Signal level=-80 dBm  Noise level=-92 dBm
          Rx invalid nwid:0  Rx invalid crypt:0  Rx invalid frag:0
          Tx excessive retries:0  Invalid misc:0   Missed beacon:0

Main Workstation Laptop:

wlan0     IEEE 802.11abgn  ESSID:"Network-ID"  
          Mode:Managed  Frequency:2.437 GHz  Access Point: $$:$$:$$:$$:$$:$$   
          Bit Rate=52 Mb/s   Tx-Power=15 dBm   
          Retry  long limit:7   RTS thr:off   Fragment thr:off
          Power Management:off
          Link Quality=44/70  Signal level=-66 dBm  
          Rx invalid nwid:0  Rx invalid crypt:0  Rx invalid frag:0
          Tx excessive retries:498560  Invalid misc:14879   Missed beacon:0  

What's interesting is that both are running on the 2.4 GHz networks, essentially both not on the wireless n network, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of things. Is it bad to run both the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz networks with the same SSID? If using a network repeater, is it bad to rebroadcast the original network with the same SSID as the source network?

It seems that the 5.0 GHz network is getting "clobbered" by the 2.4 GHz network. Is it really necessary for me to broadcast using different SSIDs?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I think you're mixing some basic terms. You can still have Wireless-N on the 2.4Ghz band. It is faster than G (theoretically can get up to 300Mbps), although, according to Tom's Hardware the range depends on the radio and antennas and may actually fall shorter.

The 5GHz frequency is basically clearer and freer than 2.4Ghz (which is used by every router, wifi device, phone and, in some models microwave ovens). Getting your device to connect to the 5Ghz SSID is desirable, though not always achievable. Many devices, especially phones and tablets, can only "see" in the 2.4Ghz range. Many laptops, especially in the last year or so, have multi-band wireless adapters (you can verify before you buy).

I have a dual band router at home. All my devices use Wireless-N: the Macbook Pro and the Lenovo are connected on 5Ghz (although the Macbook tends to switch down to 2.4 when I'm not looking at it - maybe the signal is stronger). The iPods and Android connect to 2.4Ghz.

I do recommend separate SSIDs. This way they are neatly separated. And don't worry - people on the outside whose devices do not support 5Ghz cannot even see that SSID.

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Additionally, for a noise and interference-free space, on whatever band you are using, you can do a channel scan of the other networks in your proximity and put your wifi access point on a channel that is not being used by other networks. This will remove the fading signal strength and network degradation that you might be facing as a result of interference from other wifi networks.

inSSIDer is a nice tool that can do it for you.

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