A Single Wi-Fi Network Using the Mesh Approach

Have you ever wondered why your Wi-Fi Network has two separate names? One may end in "2.4G" (or have no suffix), while the other ends in "5G". For example, a Ting and Ting_5G network.

Those two networks are actually different signal frequencies with different uses.

  • 2.4G is slower but can generally travel further.
  • 5G is faster but covers less distance.

With a mesh network, the two networks are combined by supporting both 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies, referred to as a dual-band. You only need to connect to one, but they will continue to function as two separate networks in the background. Your router will automatically switch your device between the two frequencies without you noticing.

This isn't always your choice. Some router manufacturers only do it one way or the other. Consult with the router manufacturer for more info.

2.4 GHz versus 5 GHz network bands

The main difference between 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi is their speed and range of capabilities.

  • Speed: Higher frequencies, such as 5 GHz, offer faster data transfer rates compared to 2.4 GHz. This means that devices connected to a 5 GHz network can experience faster download and upload speeds.
  • Distance: Higher frequencies struggle with obstacles like walls and furniture. So a 5 GHz signal may have a shorter range. But if there are few barriers, it can still cover a significant distance.

In general, a 2.4 GHz signal can cover most of a typical 2,200 sq ft home. On the other hand, 5 GHz signals can reach approximately 2 or 3 rooms away from the router.

These ranges can vary depending on the specific home, particularly due to differences in the building materials and other solid objects in your space.

  2.4 GHz 5 GHz
Protocols 802.11b/g/n 802.11a/n/ac
Range
  • Greater range
  • Up to 300 ft
  • Better penetrating solid objects
  • Lower indoor range
  • Up to 80 ft
  • Less effective at penetrating solid objects
Speed
  • Up to 100 Mbps
  • 20-60 typical
  • Up to 600 Mbps
  • 100-400 typical
Compatibility Universal Limited
*based on device specifications

Channels
(non-overlapping)

3

24

Congestion Congested with Wi-Fi signals Less Wi-Fi congestion
Wi-Fi Interference More likely Less likely 

Background

Here's a brief background of the two frequencies. 

  • When Wi-Fi was introduced in 1999, routers operated on the 2.4 GHz frequency. This frequency has three non-overlapping channels but suffers from congestion due to the large number of devices competing for spectrum.

    These devices include microwaves, cordless phones, baby monitors, security cameras, game controllers, wireless mice, wireless keyboards, and garage door openers, among others.

    When there's a lot of noise around, devices have a hard time communicating and end up sending data again and again. This leads to reduced speeds, increased latency, and connectivity issues.

  • The 5 GHz band operates on 24 non-overlapping channels, making it preferable to 2.4 GHz for daily use due to its lack of congestion or interference.

    Not all devices are compatible and only support the 2.4 GHz, such as:
    - Basic devices that only require an internet connection and low to mid-range devices like printers, e-readers, and smart appliances
    - Basic smartphones or computers.
    - Wi-Fi devices manufactured before.

Manually Setting Network Bands

Dual router bands typically do not automatically switch to the optimal band. For instance, if your phone has both networks saved in its Wi-Fi list, it will connect to the first one it detects.

  • If you want to use only one network, adjust the setting to forget the other network.
  • Some devices allow you to set the order of priority, but this feature is not always available.
  • Alternatively, you can manually switch networks depending on your location.

Network Optimization with Mesh Wi-Fi

Instead of having separate networks named Home 2.4 and Home 5, you can simplify by having a single network named Home. The router will still use the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands in the background, but you won't need to manually select one over the other.

Your router will automatically determine which band to use based on factors like signal strength, network usage, distance, compatibility, etc.

 Pros  Cons
  • One network. Take advantage of both frequencies by using a single network.
  • No manual switching. You don't need to switch between networks depending on the situation.
  • A seamless hand-off between the network.
  • Automatic selection may not be faster. Your device may connect to the slower 2.4 GHz band despite you being near the router.
  • Cannot change your band. You do not have direct control over the frequency you are on.
  • Some devices can't show the frequency they're using. Specialized Wi-Fi analyzers may be needed to determine your connected network.

ZyXEL Routers | Customers with installations before 2020

Customers who installed their service before August 2019 were initially set up with two separate Wi-Fi networks. However, since then, we have transitioned to a unified mesh approach for all routers we deploy.

If you have a preference for either Wi-Fi connection method, it is a simple setting change in your route, although it may require a software upgrade. If you need assistance with this, contact us.

If you are renting an eero router from Ting, the Wi-Fi networks cannot be separated. This router operates exclusively in a unified mesh mode.

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