What’s the Difference Between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi?

Management 13 minute read 5th October 2020

You don’t need to be savvy in internet technology to grasp the difference between 2.4 and 5 GHz WiFi. When you own a business that provides guest WiFi connection, knowing the difference between these standard wireless protocols will help you pick the best WiFi solution for your business needs and your customers’ connectivity needs. After all, enhancing the guest WiFi experience is always good for business.

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What Do These Numbers Refer To?

First things first, let’s get a basic understanding of what 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz represent in terms of WiFi connectivity. These two numbers represent the two different “bands” or frequencies that your WiFi router can use to connect internet enabled devices to its signal. Gigahertz, or GHz, is equivalent to 1 billion hertz, and is a common unit of measurement of computer processing speed, alternating current, and electromagnetic (EM) frequencies.

When it comes to WiFi, the difference between 2.4 and 5 GHz indicates the connectivity speed a router can support.

Difference Between 2.4 GHz And 5 GHz WiFi: Major Considerations When Selecting One Over The Other

When a device connects to the internet, the transmission speed is commonly measured in Mbps (megabits per second), or broadband speed. Broadband is the bandwidth used for WiFi connections to enable high-speed internet access. The FCC defines broadband internet as having a minimum of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds;. The higher the Mbps, the speedier the data transmission is and the speedier the online activity. When looking at the difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi, the major consideration is the broadband speed each one can support.

Main Difference Between 2.4 And 5.0 GHz In Terms Of Speed

Under ideal conditions, 2.4 GHz will support anywhere between 450 Mbps and 600 Mbps, while 5 GHz will support up to 1300 Mbps. To understand the main difference between 2.4 and 5.0 GHz in terms of speed, visualize this:

  • The 2.4 GHz band uses longer waves so that it’s more ideal in carrying data across longer distances, as well as through walls and other solid objects.
  • On the other hand, the 5 GHz band uses shorter waves and, therefore, carries data faster over shorter distances but is less able to penetrate solid objects.

So if you’re transmitting data over a long distance, i.e., the distance between your router and device, you should use the 2.4 GHz band for fast internet speed; if you’re transmitting data over a short distance, the 5 GHz band will give you a faster connection — up to 1300 Mbps under ideal conditions.

Take note, however, that the maximum speed either band can support will also depend on the router you’re using and many other factors that often make conditions less than ideal.

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2.4 GHz Range Vs 5 GHz WiFi In Terms Of Coverage

As mentioned above, the 2.4 GHz range vs 5 GHz band also indicates how far data can be transmitted. If your WiFi needs to cover a larger area or an area with walls and other solid objects, then 2.4 GHz band is the ideal choice. Without taking other external factors or major obstacles into consideration, a lot of standard WiFi routers operating on the 2.4GHz frequency can reach up to 150 feet (46 m) indoors and 300 feet (92 m) outdoors. The 2.4 GHz band will meet the needs of large retail stores and multi-level establishments, for example.

The 5 GHz frequency has a shorter effective range and is best suited to locations that have no physical obstructions and have a reach of around one-third of the aforementioned distances.

Congestion Vis-A-Vis Frequency

Another difference between 2.4 and 5 GHz WiFi can be observed in their respective levels of “congestion.” Because of its wider effective range, the 2.4 GHz band is more crowded compared to the 5 GHz band. The former is also used by other devices, such as bluetooth devices, microwave ovens, baby monitors, etc. The heavier congestion in this band can decrease internet speed. With less congestion, the latter can provide a speedier and more stable internet connection — given all other conditions are also ideal.

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The Price Difference Between Routers With 2.4 And 5 GHz WiFi

If budget is a consideration for your business when choosing between a router with 2.4 and a 5 GHz WiFi, then you may opt for the cheaper 2.4 GHz WiFi package, as the 5 GHz packages are a newer offering in the market and provide considerably better speeds under certain conditions.

If you’re looking for more value for your money, however, you should spring for a 5 GHz WiFi package as most modern routers already act as a dual-band — this means that the router can support both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. Some dual-band routers only allow the use of one frequency at a time, i.e., you’ll have to manually switch from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz and vice versa depending on your needs. Another option is a simultaneous dual-band router, which simultaneously and separately broadcasts both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequencies. When choosing which WiFi system will give you more value for your money based on the connectivity needs of your business and its customers.

2.5 Vs 5 GHz WiFi: Which Is Better For Your Devices?

The battle between 2.5 vs 5 GHz WiFi can go either way given the variety of factors that determine internet conditions. The 2.4 GHz band has been around longer and if you’re wondering whether or not you should upgrade to a 5 GHz frequency to better serve your customers’ connectivity needs, here are additional considerations to keep in mind.

  • If you have a small cafe or restaurant with an open-floor plan and you have a lot of guests that use your space for work, or if you want to offer your establishment for business meetings and events, you may have to upgrade to 5 GHz.
  • If your establishment is located in a crowded commercial building/complex with dozens of wireless routers and other 2.4Ghz band devices, then you should seriously consider switching to the 5 GHz band.
  • If you’re a lodging establishment and you have to provide WiFi connection to individual rooms on different floors, the 2.4 GHz band remains the better option.

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The Best WiFi Solution For Your Business In Terms Of Guest Experience

Knowing the difference between 2.4 and 5 GHz WiFi can actually help you drive more business to your establishment. Customers can go anywhere they like to enjoy free WiFi; if you want to attract more customers, you should take every opportunity to provide the best guest WiFi experience possible. The type of establishment you have and how it is built, where you’re located, and the types of customers you get will determine which WiFi frequency is the ideal choice for your business.

Your WiFi system setup is another opportunity to give your business a greater competitive edge. When you invest in a fully customizable WiFi system, like Beambox, you can do more than just provide free and fast internet connectivity to your customers. Beambox is a sophisticated WiFi marketing platform that enhances the guest WiFi experience and gives you access to a variety of tools to help you boost business, build customer loyalty, manage your online reputation, and more.

Beambox offers a number of ways to make your WiFi network work to your advantage while meeting your customers’ connectivity needs. Entice your customers to subscribe to your SMS marketing via a customized captive portal login. Additionally, you can limit WiFi access within specified physical parameters, control download speeds and sizes, or prompt customers to leave an online review, depending on your WiFi customization preferences. You’ll also get access to intelligent marketing tools so you can harness valuable customer data and have a better understanding of the people who patronize your business.

Beambox is an all-in-one WiFi solution that accomplishes all of the above and more. We have an existing client base of over 3,000 venues, and our customizable WiFi marketing solutions have been used in impressive and rewarding ways. You can drive sales with time-sensitive deals and promos for your restaurant, boost social engagement through Instagram or Facebook contests, and climb up on online ranking platforms through real-time customer reviews. Accelerate your business growth — start your Beambox free trial today!


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