Understanding the differences between Wi-Fi frequencies is a low priority for most people, who often have more important things on their minds as they go about their busy day. But, in the evening, when they sit down at their computer or in front of their TV set to relax and stream their favorite movie, they may feel its impact more strongly without even realizing the cause—because the connection problems they experience may simply be chalked up to “slow internet.”
Why Wi-Fi frequencies are important
Currently, there are three standard frequencies used to transmit Wi-Fi signals. In plain language, Wi-Fi signals are the wireless signals that get sent wirelessly from your internet router to any connected device, such as your laptop, tablet, streaming TV, or smart speaker.
Here’s the breakdown:
- 2.4 GHz band provides the greatest coverage in terms of distance but transmits data at the slowest speeds.
- 5 GHz band provides less coverage but transmits data at faster speeds.
- 6 GHz band, introduced with the Wi-Fi 6 standard, transmits data at the fastest speeds of the three frequencies.
As frequencies push higher, wireless range decreases because higher frequencies cannot penetrate solid objects, such as walls and floors. However, higher frequencies allow data to be transmitted much faster than lower frequencies—so the higher frequencies allow you to upload and download files more quickly than 2.4 GHz.
Furthermore, your Wi-Fi connection on any particular frequency band can be affected by interference from other devices. Many household devices, such as microwaves and garage door openers, also use the 2.4 GHz band.
The 5 GHz band tends to have less overcrowding than the 2.4 GHz band because fewer devices use it and it has more channels available.
The 6 GHz band is relatively new and is exclusive to devices that support Wi-Fi 6. This band also supports almost twice as many channels as 5 GHz. Fewer devices, more spectrum, and more bandwidth means less interference and network congestion.
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