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5 GHZ VS 2.

4 GHZ WIRELESS NETWORKS


5GHz networks have been around for many years, utilizing 802.11a standards. 5GHz networks are
not as popular as 2.4GHz wireless networks (802.11b or g) however, because 5Ghz equipment has
always been more costly to deploy. This has made 2.4GHz networks an easy choice for many users,
which in turn has allowed 2.4Ghz networks to become a well established standard.
802.11n standard is growing in popularity and it supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz clients. To get the most
performance from 802.11n, 5GHz networks should be considered.
Dual band (5GHz & 2.4GHz) access points and network adapters are available and dual band
network cards are already built into many laptops so switching between networks will become easier
as time goes on.
See IEEE 802.11 standards for more information on wireless networking standards.

LI MI TATI O NS O F 2. 4 G HZ
For many years wireless local area networks have been built utilizing the 2.4GHz frequency. As the
number of wireless networks and network users have grown, the limits of 2.4GHz are starting to
show. In more densely populated areas with more and more wireless networks, conflicts and
interference can develop from the shear amount of traffic, access points, and network cards.

Another issue with 2.4GHz wireless networks is that the frequency is also used by many cordless
phones and microwaves which can cause interference. All of this traffic and interfering signals
reduce the speed of a wireless network. The interference can negatively impact users, routers and
access points.
To add to the overcrowding of 2.4GHz networks is the newer cell phones, iPhones, BlackBerry and
Android phones. They can now access WiFi 2.4GHz networks for Internet browsing. As the number
of WiFi enabled phones grows, stress on 2.4GHz networks will grow as well.
Still another issue with 2.4GHz is that it is mostly unregulated so high powered antennas, high
powered network cards and access points can negatively affect nearby networks.

5 G HZ F REQ UE NC Y NETW O RKS

5GHz frequency wireless networks can offer a relief from the overcrowding of 2.4GHz. It has a clear
signal and more channels that can be combined for higher speeds. 5GHz networks do not suffer the
overcrowding that 2.4MHz networks do. Currently 5.4GHz has less traffic through use and it can
handle more traffic more efficiently as the frequency gains in popularity. 5GHz operates on a larger
spectrum with more non overlapping channels. Each channel has 20MHz of bandwidth which allows
for much better speeds compared to 2.5GHz band (the entire 2.4GHz band is only 80MHz wide).

Clearer Signal
More Non Overlapping Channels
Can offer higher speeds

5 G HZ NETW ORK DI S AD VAN TAG E S


There are some disadvantages to going to a 5GHz wireless network. One is that the higher the
frequency of a wireless signal, the shorter its range. For example, 2.4 GHz networks cover a
substantially larger range than 5 GHz wireless networks. 5 GHz networks do not penetrate solid
objects such as walls nearly as well as do 2.4 GHz signals. This can limit an access points reach
inside buildings like homes and offices where many walls may come between a wireless antenna
and the user.
Another disadvantage is that 5GHz equipment does not readily mix with 2.4GHz equipment already
installed. This is a consideration if you're upgrading a current large wireless network installation. If
you wanted to mix an already installed 2.4GHz network with a 5GHz network, you would have to
make sure all components of the network is dual band.
Cost is another factor. The popularity of 2.4GHz means that wireless network components such as
access points, antennas and network cards are more easily available and costs less.
One perceived advantage of a higher frequency is speed. However, 5GHz networks are not
necessarily faster than 2.4GHz. There are 2.4GHz products using 802.11g that can match or can be
faster that 5GHz 802.11a by using paired radios inside access points instead of one which can
increase capacity up to 108Mbps.

W HI CH NETW ORK?
As you can probably see, switching to 5GHz requires planning. There are a few things to consider
before making the jump. In general, if high performance and over crowding of other 2.4GHz networks
in the area is an important factor, then 5GHz wireless network may be the answer. However, If you
have little control of what network cards your users are using or of access points, then a 2.4GHz
system may be a better choice.
Dual Band Wireless Networking

Dual band equipment that covers both 2.4GHz and 5GHz is ideal and covers the best of both worlds.
If the cost is within your budget, a dual band wireless network should be considered.