For context, I'm a tech support agent for ISP customers. The reason I am asking is usually band steering is turned on with the wireless gateways I work with. I have many customers that call that can't get older devices to connect with band steering. The fix is always to turn off band steering and split the network bands into separate 2.4g and 5g ones the user can connect devices to and instruct them to connect the device to the 2.4g network.

I'm curious if there's a way to get a device like this connected to Wi-Fi without turning off band steering. E.g., can the devices that play nice with band steering keep using it and the ones that don't play nice be manually assigned the correct band?

I've read that some older devices can only connect to 2.4g and other devices might use passive scanning for networks and can get confused by band steering.

This probably depends on the specific wireless gateway model if possible, but I am wondering if this is unheard of or not. Thank you for taking the time to read my question. Have a great day.

Edit: I already know the definition of band-steering, its background, and how it works. My question is about whether or not anyone has heard of manually directing a device to a single band if band-steering doesn't work well with it (but works for other devices) without turning band-steering off.

  • 1
    AFAIK band-steering is for dual-band compatible devices. The whole point is to allow capable devices to join the less crowded 5.8Ghz band. So disabling it is counter productive. (Older clients should be on 2.4Ghz, or 802.11a if it's supported) even then I believe the older wireless-a clients may degrade the performance of wireless-AC clients. I have voted to close this question, as it deals with a corporations clients, and doesn't seem to fit into the scope defined in the help center. Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 23:51
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    @Tim_Stewart It's better to call it the 5 GHz band, because most of it is not 5.8 GHz. Only channels 161 and 165 touch 5.8xx GHz.
    – Spiff
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 3:35
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    @Grace What is the make and model of the wireless gateways that have this problem? Their band steering feature must be terribly poorly implemented if it causes this problem for single-band 2.4GHz clients (or even if it causes this problem for dual-band clients, for that matter).
    – Spiff
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 3:38
  • @Spiff This will happen on Arris, Cisco, and Technicolor wireless gateways. Off the top of my head I can't remember the models this happens most frequently with. The comment by the other user wasn't very helpful because disabling band-steering is not counter productive when it comes to getting a user connected to Wi-Fi again on the devices most important to them. E.g., an elderly user I had recently who needed their iPad to connect for health reasons.
    – Grace
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 4:50
  • Also, I do not think this question is out of scope. I am asking about the possibility not specific commercial equipment.
    – Grace
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 5:05

1 Answer 1


Band steering is not part of the IEEE 802.11 standard. It's just an idea that several different vendors have implemented each in their own way. The 802.11 standard leaves the decision of which AP to join (note that each "band" of a simultaneous dual-band AP is technically a separate AP) as an implementation detail for the client devices, not the APs. So vendors that have come up with band steering schemes are actively trying to fake out the clients to defeat the clients' own AP-selection/roaming algorithms.

Since band steering is not part of the standard, there's no way to tell clients, "Hey, the network would like you to join the other band". So all band steering schemes must do things like try to "hide" the wrong-band AP by making it not respond to probe requests from the clients it's trying to steer away, or refuse to let them join the wrong-band AP (by responding to the Auth Request or Assoc Request with a failing result code, perhaps indicating that the AP is too busy), or by letting them join and then kicking them off, hoping they'll roam.

But what all three of those fake-out techniques I described above have in common is that there's nothing a client can do to overcome it. It can't join an AP it can't see, or that refuses to let it join, or that kicks it off immediately.

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