These numbers refer to two different radio wavelengths (often called "bands" or "frequencies") currently used by most routers to transmit wireless internet connections. The two big differences between the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies are speed and range.
A wireless transmission at 2.4 GHz provides internet to a larger area but sacrifices speed, while 5 GHz provides faster speeds to a smaller area. Every router is designed to deliver a certain set of frequencies, and you will want to consider which WiFi band and channel will best suit your needs and give you optimum performance.
Listed below are the different WiFi standards, frequencies, and theoretical distances and speeds. Remember, the speeds you get from your router will vary based on the internet service speed you are paying for.
||Real World Distance
|802.11a||5Ghz||390 ft||195 ft
|802.11b||2.4Ghz||460 ft||230 ft
||125 ft||62 ft
|802.11n||5Ghz||460 ft||230 ft|
|802.11ac||5Ghz||up to 820 ft (amplified)
||up to 410 ft (amplified)
|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|
|802.11ac||5Ghz||433 Mbps - 1.7 Gbps
||210 Mbps - 1 G|
There are a variety of factors that will dictate which band your devices should utilize. A lot of devices in today’s world use the 2.4 GHz wavelength, including microwaves, baby monitors, and garage door openers. While you may not have many of these devices in your home, if you live an apartment surrounded by other people, that 2.4 GHz band is likely congested with a number of devices.
If you have a device that doesn’t move around and will be located near your router (but you can’t connect it with an Ethernet cable), we recommend setting it to 5 GHz frequency to reduce congestion and take advantage of the higher speeds that the 5 GHz band can provide.
On the other hand, if you have a device that moves around your home a lot (like your smartphone) and it is usually farther away from your router, we recommend you set this device to the 2.4 GHz frequency. This wavelength has a larger range and can penetrate solid objects more easily than the 5 GHz band, making it ideal for devices that are taken from room to room or are located farther away from the router.