Why Dual Band Wireless Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
Now that Sabai is a hairs breadth away from introducing the long sought dual band wireless on the Linksys e4200 (and adding a second high-powered dual band router to the lineup), let’s focus on what dual band wireless technology actually means for the user.
Dual band means that the router can run both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless frequencies simultaneously. The more common frequency is 2.4 GHz, thus it is the most crowded. This may cause speed issues for highly populated areas, like parts of China or Singapore. If you live in a crowded region, a dual band or 5 GHz capable device might need to be a higher priority.
In addition to being a less crowded frequency, 5 GHz is more powerful. However, this power comes at the expense of range. A 5 GHz network is going to have a shorter reach and, in some parts of the world, isn’t available at all.
Interference can be an issue for either band. On one hand, 2.4 GHz can experience interference from devices such as microwaves and wireless phones. The routers proximity to these electronics should be considered when choosing this frequency. On the other hand, Bluetooth doesn’t play nicely with 5 GHz, and may cause serious disruption to the network on this band.
Many devices, like some Apple products, simply don’t work with 5 GHz, because it is wireless N only. A 2.4 GHz network is wireless G and wireless N, and works with any wireless enabled device.
Because of the various uses and restrictions, many customers think that simply running both frequencies is the way to go. However, Sabai technical support reports that largely, the idea that simultaneous frequencies will increase wireless speeds is a myth. At best the difference is negligible, at worst it can actually bog the network down. Some customers who purchase the e3000, Sabai’s current dual-band offering, end up disabling one of the frequencies to gain speed.
Not sure which way to go? Try prioritizing. When in doubt, remember everything will work with 2.4 GHz. If you live in a crowded area, 5 GHz may be useful either in addition to, or in place of, 2.4 GHz and you may wish to place a higher priority on a VPN Router with either multi-band or dual band capabilities. If you are Mac user who lives in a highly populated area, true dual band is very high priority because some of your devices may not run on the 5 GHz setting, necessitating dual band.
Look forward to exciting announcements in the coming weeks about Sabai OSv5 features and the new VPN Router lineup!