Understanding Dual Band Wi-Fi Routers for Home | T-Mobile 5G Home Internet (2024)

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The choice between Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz can be a bit confusing. Is one better than the other? If so, why does your routeroffer both? The answer is that both bands can come in handy for different uses, depending on the size of your home and the type of device you’re connecting to Wi-Fi.

What about Wi-Fi 6? How does this new generation of wireless technology play into dual band, home internet, and the whole shebang?

Don't get lost in the numbers! We'll break down everything you need to know about Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz—and Wi-Fi 6—so you can find the best fit for your home internet needs.

What is dual band Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi works by using radio frequencies to transmit data through the air from your router to your connected devices. The wireless broadcast frequency on which these signals travel is called a band. When you’re searching for your Wi-Fi network on a device, you may notice two options pop up for connecting to your home Wi-Fi: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. These two bands actually serve two different purposes:

  • The 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) band. This was designed to travel farther at lower speeds. It’s the most common band because of that long reach and the fact that it can pass through objects like walls to deliver traditional Wi-Fi to every part of a house, apartment, or office. However, as Wi-Fi became popular and more homes adopted high speed internet, the 2.4 GHz band became increasingly crowded, especially in places like apartment buildings where, despite each apartment having its own Wi-Fi service, all devices are essentially using the same signals, causing everyone’s internet speeds to slow down.
  • The 5 GHz band. While many confuse the 5 GHz Wi-Fi band option with 5G internet, they're two different things. 5G internet is a cellular technology that provides connectivity to cellphones and homes. 5 GHz is a radio frequency on which Wi-Fi travels. As an alternative to 2.4 GHz, the 5 GHz band transmits data faster, and there are generally fewer devices connected to this frequency, but it doesn’t transmit as well through walls or other obstructions. If you're using cable, fiber, or DSL internet, you don’t get a lot of choice in where you place your router due to the positioning of the receiver in the walls of our homes—so 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands, though faster, are sometimes not the best option.

Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz: Which should you choose?

If you’ve ever stared at the band options on your laptop or mobile screen wondering which one to choose, you’re not alone. There are a couple of different use cases for each.

Some devices, like smart appliances, including microwaves, baby monitors, security systems, and garage door openers connect automatically to the 2.4 GHz band.This is because the signal travels more easily through doors and walls, not to mention the fact that download and upload speeds aren’t as big a factor for smart appliances as they are for streaming video or gaming. Though you’ve probably been annoyed by buffering during a streaming movie, you’ve likely never been infuriated by garage door lag. Some devices do not support 5 GHz at all, which is why a dual band router is important.

For other devices, you have options. If you’re connecting to a videoconference on a laptop, for example, or playing an intense multiplayer game on a console, you need a more seamless connection. That’s where 5 GHz may be a good option.

It's for these reasons that most routers today are going to be dual band, meaning that they can support both 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands. Most dual band routers offer a feature called "Band Steering", which automatically connects the device to the strongest network available. A nice feature to have if you are unsure which to choose.

So, now that you have an understanding of what the different bands do, where does Wi-Fi 6 come into play?

How Wi-Fi 6 plays a role

Wi-Fi 6, the latest generation of wireless technology, has the ability deliver up to 4X higher capacity—and up to 75 percent lower latency than its predecessor (Wi-Fi 5)1—which could translate to nearly triple the speed. Why is that important?

Back in the day when Wi-Fi was in its infancy, the American home only had one or two connected devices. Today, we have an average of 22 smart devices at home2. This could cause problems with speed, since every device connected to Wi-Fi takes up bandwidth. Wi-Fi 6 is designed to handle higher volumes of traffic3. In terms of bands, Wi-Fi 6 increases the number of streams to a new high of 12 across the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. Wi-Fi 5 had a limit of 8 in a dual band configuration4.

So, if you have a wireless router or a gateway(e.g., modem/router combo) that supports this new Wi-Fi 6 technology, it can help maximize your devices’ connection speed to the internet.

Where to begin

T-Mobile, America's fastest growing Home Internet provider, utilizes a wireless 5G Gateway that works in tandem with Wi-Fi 6 and is compatible with T-Mobile's nationwide 4G LTE and 5G networks. You can check to see if it's available in your area here and take a test drive for 15 days to see if it's a good fit.

With T-Mobile 5G Home Internet, there is no complicated installation, no coaxial wires and no cable guy required. It's operated via an app you can download on your phone or computer. Once you download the app, you simply scan a barcode on your 5G Gateway, find a good spot in the room, and get connected in less than 15 minutes.

Once you're up and running, you can use that same app to access your Gateway's info, including which band you're currently connected to. From there you can update as needed. It’s that easy!

Sources:

  1. https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/wireless-network/5g-technology/5g-vs-wifi.html
  2. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/press-releases/connectivity-and-mobile-trends.html
  3. https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=811752
  4. https://www.netgear.com/blog/home/5-reasons-you-should-consider-upgrading-to-a-wifi-6-router

Additional Sources:

Understanding Dual Band Wi-Fi Routers for Home | T-Mobile 5G Home Internet (2024)
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