So your ISP provides high-speed Internet service but you still encounter buffering when streaming HD video. Is your router actually the problem? Ultimately, a dual-band router is a must to get the fastest Internet speed from your modem.

We previously covered this router technology in the past. Let’s take a fresh look at how dual-band routers provide many benefits to your home wireless network. It’s truly the best way to optimize your home network. Expect more speed reaching your modern streaming devices.

A Closer Look at Dual-Band Router Technology

Older WiFi routers supported the 802.11g standard. They use a 2.4 GHz carrier frequency band to wirelessly transmit an Internet signal throughout your house. Unfortunately, this signal limits the subsequent Internet speed to around 55 Mbps. This is the case even if you pay for faster service.

Linksys Dual-Band Router

A Linksys Dual-band router. Image copyright Linksys.

This same rule applies to the wireless receivers on your computer, older videogame systems, and mobile devices. If they only support 802.11g, your Internet speed maxes out at 55 Mbps. So when you perform an Internet speed test and aren’t receiving 100 Mbps, 802.11g might be the issue.

Newer single-band routers support the 802.11n standard over 2.4 GHz, which removes the 55 Mbps roadblock. Still, if your device uses 802.11g, it’s still stuck in the Internet slow lane. The 2.4 GHz signal also tends to be more susceptible to interference from other household devices, like microwaves.

Enter the dual-band router. These routers essentially broadcast two networks throughout your home or business. One network uses the 2.4 GHz frequency, while the other broadcasts at 5 GHz likely using the newer 802.11ac standard.

This 5 GHz signal is capable of transmitting Internet speeds over 2 gigs per second. Of course, each device receiving that signal needs to support 802.11ac or possibly 802.11n. Understanding how your router works lets you aggregate household Internet traffic to either network based on usage. Let’s take a closer look

Optimizing Your Internet Service Using a Dual-band Router

One of the major advantages of a dual-band router is the ability to route traffic to either network. Any device streaming HD video or online video games needs to use the 5 GHz network. This provides faster Internet speed with less interference.

On the other hand, connect older devices using less bandwidth to the 2.4 GHz network. In fact, depending on the wireless adapter for those devices, they might only “see” this slower network. In short, any computer not normally used for streaming is better served by the 2.4 GHz.

Simply put, picture a multi-lane highway. Make sure your faster cars stay in the left lane with the 5 GHz signal. The better dual-band routers also let you use beamforming to prioritize signals sent to your streaming devices. Take advantage of this functionality if available.

The Future of Router Technology

Some newer high-end routers even feature tri-band technology. This typically includes one 2.4 GHz network and two 5 GHz networks. The two faster networks automatically prioritize traffic based on usage and need. Expect to pay a premium for a tri-band router.

Remember, we recently covered WiFi 6, which is a fancy name for the new 802.11ax wireless standard. New routers and devices supporting WiFi 6 are now hitting the market. However, their largest impact isn’t expected until 2022; likely in tandem with 5G technology. Improved performance, speed, and latency are the big advantages. 

Ultimately, the more you understand your router – dual-band or tri-band – the better the Internet performance at your household. This knowledge helps you get the Internet speed you deserve.

For more information on router technology, check out this useful article from Linksys.