So-called dual-band routers are virtually standard today: Most models, even the cheaper ones, now use two frequency bands for WLAN.
Frequency-what? Here it gets a bit more complicated now. Simply stated, WLAN is an energy field made up of high-frequency, electromagnetic waves that can send information – including data – from one transmitter (the router) to the receiver (smartphone, computer). Electromagnetic radiation is used in many areas: FM radios use them just like the telephone or the microwave.
Now, with every device fumbling wildly, there’s going to be a lot of chaos and interference as the waves get in the way. Therefore, there are strictly divided frequency ranges (also called “frequency bands”) that can be used for different purposes. For example, an FM radio transmits at frequencies between 87.5 and 108 megahertz, and the WLAN has the frequency bands 2.4 gigahertz (GHz), 5 GHz and 60 GHz.
For a long time, it was common for routers to use only the 2.4 gigahertz band for transmission. The advantages were, among other things, the high range with constant transmission power and the good penetration of walls. Meanwhile, current dual-band routers also use the 5 GHz frequency, sometimes even both in parallel. So you can surf the net in the 2.4 GHz band and watch an HD stream on the TV in the 5 GHz band in parallel. In order to use the 5 GHz band, however, the router must master the two standards n and ac.
That’s why you should turn off the 2.4 GHz Band
Even if your router now masters both frequency bands and at first glance shows some advantages – it is sometimes worthwhile to completely switch off the 2.4 band and not let both bands run in parallel. Why?
The 2.4 GHz band is often very heavily loaded, much more than the 5 GHz band. This is also because the 2.4 GHz spectrum is used by a variety of other devices: These may be cordless phones, the wireless mouse on the PC, the controller for the game console, the microwave or a Bluetooth headset. A single device is hardly a problem, but in sum, the apartment can quickly become a minefield of connection problems.
The 5 GHz band, on the other hand, is not so heavily loaded. So it may happen with a dual-band router, that in any case all devices in the 5-GHz band hook. Although the 2.4GHz band continues to transmit, it actually only has a negative impact on other household appliances. And then it can happen that the wireless headphone no longer connects properly to the smartphone or the Playstation controller spins. If this happens to you every now and then, you should turn off the 2.4-band best completely.
The 5GHz band is faster anyway, but has one drawback: its range is limited and it does not penetrate walls that much. Can problems arise here without a 2.4 GHz band?
Not necessarily: The developers of the new WLAN standards have found ways to compensate for the problems – such as techniques such as beamforming or multi-user MIMO for a clean and high-reach connection.
How do I turn off the 2.4GHz band?
First, you should look at what devices in the household may still need the 2.4 GHz band. This refers to the devices that do not support the new standards WLAN n or ac – such as old Kindles or consoles such as the PlayStation 3. These devices could then no longer connect to the WLAN. Information on this can be found on the box or in the settings of the device. Friend Google also helps if necessary.
Newer devices such as most smartphones, tablets, consoles, streaming boxes or laptops are usually prepared. In the router settings, you will find, depending on the model, a controller for the two frequency bands.