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I've just bought my first dual band router – and i guess I didn't realize dual band meant it would actually create two wifi networks. I kind of thought maybe that one wifi network would just utilise both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

Anyway, so it's created two networks asus and asus_5g – I can connect to both and they both work. My question is – well what's the point of this? What situation would I connect to asus and when do I connect to asus_5g? Do I just make sure that half of the devices I have connected is on each network to balance the load?

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    Not all devices support 5G - For those, you use the 2G network. – confetti Aug 28 '18 at 1:19
  • @confetti - so i connect everything to the 5g network if it connects, otherwise i connect to 2g? – charlie angle Aug 28 '18 at 1:40
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    Yes, you usually always want to prefer 5G. It's faster and more stable. For me, it also has a better range, which could be due to signal interferences though. A lot of stuff uses 2.4GHz, not just Wi-Fi. Even your microwave does. – confetti Aug 28 '18 at 3:23
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    @confetti 5G and 2G are cellular phone technologies. You should use the correct WiFi terminology - 5GHz and 2.4GHz. (Yes, I know that most routers use 5G or 5g to denote the 5GHz network ;-) ) – robinCTS Aug 28 '18 at 17:55
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Depending on your model of wireless router, you might have the option to have the same network name broadcasted on both bands so that it appears as a single network. Under this configuration, clients will automatically choose which of the two bands to use. However (and this is a big however), many client devices aren't as intelligent as you might expect them to be and can frequently make a non-optimal choice.

The advantage of broadcasting two separate SSIDs is that you can manually choose which band to use. 2.4 GHz is slower and more prone to interference due to its limited number of non-overlapping channel options, but lower frequencies are generally better at penetrating walls. 5 GHz is faster and will likely see less interference, but may not be supported in some devices with older or low-cost WiFi chips.

Generally speaking, you should prefer 5 GHz unless you are using a device that doesn't support it or if you are in a spot where the 5 GHz signal is very weak. You can also try running a speed test on each band for each device to see which band gives you better performance on a per-device basis.

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There is no perfect answer. The 5 GHz network is the faster of the two. However, the range is shorter. The 2.4 GHz band will penetrate more walls and floors but is slower and prone to signal interference from the neighbors.

  • Can you point to a reference or source for your arguments? Especially the range part confuses me, I've usually had better experience with 5G on range and through walls. – confetti Aug 28 '18 at 3:21
  • @confetti Of course, signal strength and antennae layout matters. – iBug Aug 28 '18 at 3:33
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    @confetti: I didn't write the answer, but for range, see for example here. It matches my personal experience: In my home, the 5 GHz signal hasn't the same reach than the 2.4 GHz signal from the same router. – dirkt Aug 28 '18 at 5:45
  • @confetti as dirkt linked a good reference, I won't look for another. In radio, a higher frequency generally results in less ability to penetrate materials. The 60 Ghz band targeted for next gen Wi-Fi is basically "same room only" as the signal reflects off walls instead of penetrating them. – Matthew Zaleski Aug 29 '18 at 11:37

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