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I just got a new "dual band" wireless router. The sales rep didn't really understand the difference between the "2.4G" and "5G" wireless networks that the router supports.

Can anyone please explain the difference to me?

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@DaveM I rolled back your edit. Those weren't spelling errors, "2.4G" and "5G" is how wireless routers are marketed. –  Indrek Jan 25 '13 at 13:57
@Indrek Have not seen that in manufacturers info. Have seen 802.11AC refered to as 5G in some material. –  Dave M Jan 25 '13 at 14:11
@DaveM Wild guess, but could 5G in that context mean "generation 5" (after a, b, g and n)? Anyway, plenty of dual-band, non-ac routers are marketed as 2.4G+5G. Example: amazon.com/SANOXY-Concurrent-300Mbps-Wireless-integrated/dp/… –  Indrek Jan 25 '13 at 14:18

2 Answers 2

up vote 20 down vote accepted

Unlike "3G" and "4G" in the mobile phone world which refer to "third generation" and "fourth generation" mobile phone technology, the "2.4G" and "5G" numbers in Wi-Fi are radio frequency bands. 2.4G is short for the 2.4GHz band, and 5G is short for the 5GHz band (roughly 5.1 to 5.8 GHz, with some gaps in between depending on the country and regulator agency).

There is a reasonable article on the Cisco website that highlights the differences.

In a nutshell, the 2.4GHz band gives you longer range, whereas the 5GHz band offers more channels that are less likely to be polluted with interference.

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Thanks for a clear, in-a-nutshell explanation, and a useful link! –  Shaul Behr Jan 25 '13 at 12:30
5G spans a wider range of frequencies than just 5.7-5.8 GHz. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… –  Indrek Jan 25 '13 at 14:10
Thanks for the comment... mea culpa for writing the answer at the same time as writing an in-house email on a related theme. Thanks also to @Spiff's edit –  Andrew Jan 25 '13 at 18:54

It is better to use the 2.4 GHz wireless band if you are going to connect over a larger distance (but unlike 5ghz, it's more likely to have network traffic). The 5 GHz band offers higher bandwidth for faster downloading, uploading and streaming videos online, but works best over shorter distances without many obstructions such as walls,

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