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Router tips: What’s the difference between the 2.4 and 5 GHz wireless band?



Learn the difference between the 2.4 and 5 GHz wireless band, and how to switch between them on the Viasat WiFi Modem.

When setting up a router to create your home network, you may have noticed there’s a choice between 2.4 or 5 GHz frequencies. How do you know which to choose?

A simple rule of thumb is that the 2.4 GHz has greater reach, while the 5 GHz has a stronger signal. There’s a little more to it, though, so read on …

Wireless network equipment typically use radio signals in either a 2.4 GHz range or a 5 GHz range. Most devices use the 2.4 GHz band – in large part because most older routers only support that band.

With newer modems, including the Viasat WiFi Modem, you may have a choice.

So what’s the difference between 2.4 and 5GHz?

The 2.4 GHz frequency has an extensive range and can easily pass through obstacles like walls. Because most devices use this, the band is narrow, busy, noisy and, as a result, slower and less stable.
It’s the interstate of bandwidths, almost everyone uses it: baby monitors, garage-door openers, car alarms, microwave ovens, security cameras, wireless headphones and cordless phones, to name a few. The 2.4GHz band includes 3 channels.

The 5 GHz band can move a lot of data quickly, but has a shorter range. For instance, if you’re using your tablet on 5 GHz and move to another room in your house, the connection might drop. Because it’s used almost exclusively by WiFi, it performs better than 2.4 GHz. And with 23 non-overlapping channels, it offers almost 8X as much capacity as the 3-channel, 2.4 GHz band.

Think of it as the device expressway: broader, less crowded, faster and — because it’s not widely supported — a bit tougher to get to than the 2.4 GHz band. It’s ideal for laptops, phones, tablets and other data devices you’re using in small, open spaces.

In summary:


2.4 GHz

  • Long range, better obstacle penetration
  • Used by most devices
  • High traffic makes it prone to interference
  • Good for email, some browsing and similar low-bandwidth consuming functions

5 GHz

  • Short range, can’t easily penetrate solid objects
  • Less congested and higher throughput for streaming functions
  • Not all of devices are 5GHz compatible.
  • Ideal for use indoors.

How to use the 5 GHz band on the Viasat WiFi Modem and Viasat WiFi Gateway

Viasat WiFi Modem: 

If you’d like to use 5 GHz, first check the manual that comes with each of your devices to see if it supports 5 GHz. Even if all your devices aren’t compatible, you can still switch to 5 GHz. Those that aren’t compatible will continue to work just as well on either band, and the devices that are compatible will perform even better. 
  1. Then type the IP address into your internet browser.
  2. When prompted, log in using the user name “admin” and password “admin.”
  3. Click on the Router tab.
  4. Click on the Wireless button.
  5. Locate the Configuration View section, then use the dropdown menu to switch between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
Note: While some routers that have 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz capability allow you to use both channels at once, you’ll have to pick one or the other with the Viasat WiFi Modem. Our suggestion is to give them both a try and stick with the one that seems to work best in your location.
Tip: You can download free or inexpensive apps from the Apple App Store or Google Play that allow you to walk around your home and see how good your WiFi signal is. The free app “Wi-Fi Sweetspots” is one example.

Viasat WiFi Gateway: 
  1. Type the IP address into your internet browser.
  2. When prompted, log in using the user name “admin” and password that's printed on the sticker on your modem (Tip: Take a picture of the password and expand it to make the password easier to read)
  3. Click on the Router tab.
  4. Click on the Wireless button.
  5. Locate the Configuration View section. The Viasat WiFi gateway supports using 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz at the same time -- so you don't have to choose! 

You may also be interested in reading "How to create a home network with Viasat Internet and a wireless router".

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