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I have my router set up to work on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz using the same SSID in dual-band mode. Sometimes, when I am on the edge of the 5GHz range, I suspect that my very poor internet performance is due to my Mac Book connecting to the 5GHz band instead of the 2.4GHz.

How can I determine which band my laptop is connected to so that I can confirm or refute my hypothesis here? If my hypothesis turns out to be true, how can I force my Mac running OS X Yosemite, to switch over to the 2.4GHz band to get better performance when at the edge of 5GHz reception? How do I release this forced connection to 2.4GHz when I leave this region on the edge of reception for 5GHz?

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For determining whether it is using the 2.4 or 5 GHz bands, click on the wireless networking icon at the top of the screen while holding down the Option key.

WiFi using 5 GHz

Further Info

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  • That is great, anyway to then force it to switch to the other band? – WilliamKF Jun 29 '15 at 3:03
  • Nice trick. Still working on Sierra. – psychowood Mar 18 '17 at 16:17
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Channels 1 to 11 (higher in some regions) are in the 2.4 GHz range. Channels 36 and up are in the 5Ghz range. Channels numbers from 36 to 48 have restricted power when used with multiple antennas. If you can administer the router, try moving to a higher channel on the 5GHz range.

If you can determine the channel number you can determine which band you are on. Again if you can administer the router you may be able to setup different SSIDs for each frequency range. This will allow you to select the frequency range by SSID.

In my location, the 2.4GHz range is pretty saturated, so even a slightly weaker signal on the 5GHz range is a significant improvement.

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Set 2 different SSIDs in your router (that's my setup at home). Then test both by just using the network as you normally would. Then to force the Mac to switch, just switch networks on the wifi menu in OS X. I realize this might not be the answer you're looking for but it does cover everything you asked.

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