So What Is A Dual Band Router?
In a nutshell, Dual Band uses both the 5GHz (Gigahertz) wireless frequency and the 2.4GHz wireless frequency. Most wireless devices use 2.4GHz, with only some of the very oldest devices (802.11a) and the very newest devices (802.11ac) using 5GHz.
History Of The Dual Band Router
Back in the early days of wireless networks, only 802.11a (which uses 5GHz) and 802.11b (which uses 2.4GHz) were the wireless standards available on the market. Although 802.11a was superior, 802.11b was the standard that took off. Think of this in terms of VCR’s – VHS was technically inferior to Betamax, but VHS won the battle!
Then 802.11g and 802.11n, which also use 2.4GHz, were released over the years. This has resulted in congestion of the 2.4GHz range. Think of all the wireless devices in use at any one time (PC’s, cell phones, iPads etc) – the vast majority use Wireless N – on the 2.4GHZ range. Also consider that other appliances around the home share 2.4GHz – including microwave ovens and cordless telephones. Collisions between devices connecting to different wireless networks, particularly in built up areas has become commonplace and has impacted user experience. Internet browsing, downloading & online gaming has all suffered.
Some of the latest Dual Band routers have 802.11ac – otherwise known as Wireless AC. Wireless AC uses the 5GHz range. The advantages of 5GHz is that depending on the distance a device is from the Wireless AC router/antenna, a much faster throughput (data speed) can be achieved. In most cases, Wireless AC is 3 times faster (theoretical speeds of up to 1.3Gbps, depending on the router) than Wireless N.
5GHz is also much less congested than the 2.4GHz range. Household appliances generally do not share this frequency and very few devices use 5GHz today. This means less interrupts and disconnects and potentially faster speeds.
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Why Use A Dual Band Router?
A Dual Band router can provide options that a single band router can’t. The beauty of Dual Band is using both 5GHz and 2.4GHz ranges. Even better is having Simultaneous Dual Band which gives the option of using both 2.4GHz and 5GHz at the same time.
You, the router owner, can pick who and what can access each GHz range. Depending on the router you can have control which band is accessed by IP address or MAC filtering or traffic type, right down to only giving out the GHz range Pre-Shared Key (wireless password) to whichever user you grant access to.
So, to sum up, using a Dual Band router has many benefits:
- You can balance data traffic over 2 separate wireless bands
- Control which users or traffic types use each band
- Place heavy bandwidth users in the band of your choosing – freeing up the other band for your use!
- Have more bandwidth available with simultaneous Dual Band (note that this may not necessarily help with Internet access – this is more beneficial for internal LAN traffic, as the Internet can often be the bandwidth bottleneck).