Users advised to shift Wi-Fi band from 2.4Ghz to 5.0Ghz

The performance of 2.4GHz connections are weaker despite assumptions this band is better for range

wireless router

Weak Wi-Fi signal and frustrating speeds could be the result of workers connecting their devices to the internet using a 2.4GHz band over a 5.0GHz band, researchers claim.

Connections via 2.4GHz bands are conventionally seen as the better option for users who prioritise the need for range, over absolute speed.

Tests by Australian broadcasting association Enex, however, found that 2.4GHz Wi-Fi performance is generally lower in both capability and range when compared with connections via the 5.0GHz band.

Furthermore, while 5.0GHz bands are thought to be more affected by obstacles such as walls or doors, most Wi-Fi devices on this band provided better data streaming than 2.4GHz Wi-Fi performance.

"The 2.4 GHz band is often promoted as a better choice for longer range communications. However, Enex's findings did not support this," the report concluded. "Operating in the 5 GHz band appears to be the best choice for consumers under all circumstances.

"The 5 GHz band also has the benefit of more recent technology developments which includes features such as directional beamforming and MU/MIMO (with up to eight antennas and multiuser sub-channels)."

The research found considerably greater levels of data throughput using 5.0GHz bands as opposed to 2.4GHz bands when testing 43 devices in small office environments.

When testing at the closest distance of five metres, 30% of devices were unable to achieve rates of 100Mbps using the 2.4GHz band. For the 5.0GHz band, by contrast, most devices hit speeds above this threshold at five metres. When tested at 50 metres, the majority of devices performed badly, but connections via the 5.0GHz band yielded better results.

When tested through brick and plaster walls at the Enex facility, 2.4GHz connections also underperformed versus 5.0GHz connections.

Just 26% of devices using the 2.4GHz band were able to support data rates of more than 10Mbps over 25 metres. Around 40% of connections using the 5.0GHz band, however, were able to support data rates of 80Mbps or more.

Enex concluded there is a wide variation in Wi-Fi performance offered across a range of devices, and more expensive devices did not necessarily lead to greater performance.

Meanwhile, in many cases, significantly lower-priced devices outperformed many of the more expensive devices when tested in real-world scenarios.

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