Problem of the Week: Should You Disable the 2.4GHz Spectrum?

In an earlier post discussing over-coverage on the 2.4GHz spectrum, we mentioned that we don’t recommend completely disabling the 2.4GHz band.  We got several questions about that, so today we want to discuss it in more detail.

First, let’s check out the benefits to disabling the band.

  1. There are more channels available in 5GHz, so clients using that band have less interference.
  2. With only one option, you don’t need to rely on band-steering or load-balancing to move clients to the 5GHz band.
  3. You can increase channel density by using 20MHz channel widths and switching APs to dual-5GHz mode (if they support it).

Now, look at the downsides.

  1. The 5GHz signal does not propagate as well as the 2.4GHz signal.  You need to have dense AP coverage to support 5GHz, or there will be areas with poor signal strength.
  2. Many IoT devices only support 2.4GHz.  This includes HVAC sensors, video cameras, and thermostats.
  3. BYOD programs limit the control you have over the devices that come onto your network.  Some devices could be older, and might only support 2.4GHz.

Before deciding to disable the 2.4GHz band, it’s vital you understand what services you need to support.  If you have devices that can only operate on 2.4GHz, you might decide to only partially-disable the band. For example, you could advertise your main SSID on 5GHz only, and maintain 2.4GHz support on Guest or BYOD networks.

The Wireless Intelligence Platform™ (WIP) provides an easy way to identify and monitor all devices, and determine which bands are necessary for supporting different services.  Its client monitoring, fingerprinting, and behavioral profiling give complete visibility into what devices are on the network and what services they are using, while its historical forensics populate graphs, displaying trends over time with data on Access Points, Client Distribution, and Airtime and Client Utilization.  Remove the complexity from the question, and use WIP to make the best decision today.

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