45

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

Can anyone please explain the difference to me?

  • 1
    @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
49

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 Linksys 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.

16

802.11b - 11 Mbps (2.4GHz)
802.11a - 54 Mbps (5 GHz)
802.11g - 54 Mbps (2.4GHz)
802.11n - 600 Mbps (2.4GHz and 5 GHz) - 150Mbps typical for network adapters, 300Mbps, 450Mbps, and 600Mbps speeds when bonding channels with some routers
802.11ac - 1300+Mbps (5 GHz) - newer standard that uses wider channels, QAM and spatial streams for higher throughput

Actual wireless speeds vary significantly from the above theoretical maximum speeds due to: distance - distance from the access point, as well as any physical obstructions, such as walls, signal-blocking or reflecting materials affect signal propagation and reduce speed interference - other wireless networks and devices in the same frequency in the same area affect performance shared bandwidth - available bandwidth is shared between all users on the same wireless network.

14

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,

protected by Community Nov 20 '16 at 19:19

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.