Why Use Dual Band Routers? Even if you don’t entirely get why, you probably have assimilated the information that a dual band router is a good thing from marketing materials. If nothing else, even the most technically inept of us can say “Well, that’s two bands, and two is better than one, right?”
Making decisions on that basis, though, is somewhat questionable, to say the least.
Why use dual band routers, then? There are a number of genuinely compelling reasons beyond sating that primal urge to see the biggest numbers possible; dual band WiFi broadcasting is anything but a gimmick, and it warrants inspection on more than a cursory level.
Why Use Dual Band Routers? Compatibility
Let’s discuss the most obvious thing here first. 802.11ac devices function exclusively on the 5GHz band; a compatible device connected to an 802.11ac router isn’t going to gain any performance advantage from that router’s dual band support.
The thing is: there aren’t a whole lot of 802.11ac devices in the wild right now, but that will change.
The vast majority of what you use your 802.11ac router for today is actually going to be handled by an older version of the WiFi specification, and that makes dual band support – that is, enabling the router to broadcast on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands – important.
You can use an 802.11n connection on the 5GHz band alone, but 802.11g devices – of which there are still a surprising number in use – are only compatible with a router that’s capable of broadcasting an 802.11g signal, and that means it needs to be capable of broadcasting on the 2.4GHz band.
Why Use Dual Band Routers? Speed
It’s true that dual band support isn’t a big contributor to throughput on 802.11ac networks, but – while they’re certainly becoming more common by the day – those still aren’t the dominant variety of wireless router on the market right now.
More common are 802.11n devices, which offer a relatively modern version of the specification at a much cheaper price point; dual band support is a big deal here. An 802.11n router without dual band support will typically be 2.4GHz only for backwards compatibility; this cuts potential throughput in half or worse.
A dual band router will provide you with the full dual-link version of the 802.11n standard, transmitting data on both bands simultaneously.
Why Use Dual Band Routers? Guest Networking
Many dual band routers actually use a separate radio for each band in order to maximize dual-link performance.
This is also a good thing for you if you’re worried about trying to run a high-traffic guest network. On a single band router, guest networks are virtual networks, and running them will reduce the performance of your main network.
Everything is coming from the same hardware. Dual band routers enable you to actually run two physical networks with the same router; the network on the 2.4GHz band and the one of the 5GHz band can be completely separate.
This does use the ability to use the other band for seamless backwards compatibility or dual-link broadcasting, but it’s still the best way to run a guest network, and as such it’s well worth considering.
Why Use Dual Band Routers? Adaptability
In administering any network, it’s going to sometimes be necessary to respond to unexpected occurrences.
You’ll need to add a machine you hadn’t planned around; you’ll need to deal with the neighbor dumping WPS requests (Standard provides rules for standardizing how inputs and outputs) on you; you’ll need to get a level of speed that you hadn’t managed in the past.
Dual band routers give you a great deal more ways to deal with problems like these; you can put the same technology to a lot of different uses, and it doesn’t take much work on your part to bring about these transitions.
The same hardware can be pressed into a different task at a moment’s notice.
It should be clear at this point that – while dual band routers are certainly a buzzword right now – there’s some substance behind that. There are a lot of genuinely good reasons that you might want a dual band router if you’re not already using one; the specific benefits will vary a lot with your personal circumstances, but all the same there are noticeable benefits to using a dual band router in quite a few situations.
Why use dual band routers? It’s not just that “dual band” sounds good on a flyer; it’s that they’re useful tools, and that they’ll continue to be useful tools for all sorts of different users.