What’s the difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi?

The primary differences between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals are speed and range. A 2.4GHz WiFi signal provides internet to a larger area but sacrifices speed, while the 5GHz band provides faster speeds to a smaller area. Every router is designed to deliver a certain set of frequencies that you need to consider when deciding which WiFi band will best suit your needs. Below is a list of the different WiFi standards, frequencies, and theoretical distances and speeds. Remember, the speeds you get from your router may vary depending on the wireless internet service speed you currently pay for.

Range comparison – 2.4GHz vs. 5GHz

Standard Frequency Theoretical Distance
Real World Distance
802.11a 5Ghz 390 ft 195 ft
802.11b 2.4Ghz 460 ft 230 ft
802.11g 2.4Ghz
125 ft 62 ft
802.11n 2.4Ghz
820 ft
410 ft
802.11n 5Ghz 460 ft 230 ft
802.11ac 5Ghz up to 820 ft (amplified)
up to 410 ft (amplified)

Speed comparison – 2.4GHz vs. 5Ghz

Standard Frequency Theoretical Speed
Real-World Speed
802.11a 5Ghz 6-54 Mbps 3 - 32 Mbps
802.11b 2.4Ghz 11 Mbps 2-3 Mbps
802.11g 2.4Ghz 54 Mbps 10 -29 Mbps
802.11n 2.4Ghz 300 Mpbs 150 Mbps
802.11n 5Ghz 900 Mbps 450Mbps
802.11ac 5Ghz 433 Mbps - 1.7 Gbps
210 Mbps - 1 G

Which frequency should you choose – 2.4 Ghz or 5 Ghz?

It depends. There are a variety of factors that will dictate which band your devices should utilize. Lots of devices in today’s world use the 2.4GHz wavelength, including microwaves, baby monitors, and garage openers. While you may not have many of these devices in your home, if you live an apartment surrounded by other people with their own routers, the 2.4GHz band is likely congested with all sorts of devices. If  you have a device that doesn’t move around and will be located near your router (and you can’t connect it with an Ethernet cable), we recommend having it utilize the 5GHz wavelength to reduce congestion and take advantage of the higher speeds that the 5GHz wavelength can provide. 

If you have a device that moves around your home a lot (like your cellphone) and it is usually located farther away from your router, we recommend you set this device up to take advantage of the 2.4GHZ wavelength. The 2.4GHZ wavelength has a larger range and can penetrate solid objects easier than the 5GHZ band, making it ideal for devices such as cell phones or laptops that are taken from room to room or are located farther from the router.  

2.4 GHz summary

  • Cons: Lower data rate, more susceptible to interference and usually has more devices using this frequency
  • Pros: Larger coverage area, better at successfully penetrating solid objects
  • 2.4GHz max speed: ~150 Mbps
  • 2.4Ghz max distance: ~410 ft
5 GHz summary

  • Pros: Higher data rate, less susceptible to interference and usually has fewer devices using this frequency
  • Cons: Smaller coverage area, less successful at penetrating solid objects
  • 5Ghz max speed: ~1 Gbps
  • 5Ghz max distance: ~410 ft amplified
Whether you choose 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz, you need to make sure your modem/router and device are using the same frequency. After reading this article, you should now have a better idea of which frequency works best for your situation.
Was this article helpful?
Sorry we couldn't help you find what you were looking for!
We'd love to get your feedback on this article. Please tell us how we can make it better. If you need immediate help with a service or technical issue, please go to the contact us page.
Thanks for your feedback!
CenturyLink Product Support
Search Support