Reports of the death of the 2.4 GHz WiFi have been greatly exaggerated

Why is this relevant for a smart workspace system, such as TableAir, you might wonder? Well it's fitting because of a common misconception in the world of IoT (Internet of things) which TableAir is part of.

Occupancy sensors and devices such as access card readers, produced by TableAir work within existing WiFi networks already present at client locations.

There is a current trend to install new routers that are working within 5 GHz range.

5 GHz after all sounds like more then double the speed of a mere 2.4 GHz right!?

It creates an impression that 2.4 GHz WiFi is inevitably fading away. However we argue the 2.4 GHz will stay with us for a while. Especially with the recent approval of Wi-Fi 6 protocol (802.11ax) which IEEE approved on February 9, 2021

We all like numbers, it's a language of concrete. Let's look at the factual information such as coverage distance and speed in the chart bellow:

In a nutshell 5 GHz provides faster data rates at a shorter distance. 2.4 GHz offers coverage for farther distances but may perform at slower speeds. But all of this depends on the protocol within the frequency is being used at.

Wi-Fi coverage distance

5 GHz Wi-Fi’s shorter radio waves mean it can cover less distance and isn’t as good at penetrating through solid objects as 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi is. In other words, 2.4 GHz can cover a larger area and is better at getting through walls. Due to larger wavelength, 2.4 GHz signal can easily pass through walls and solid objects. Hence it covers larger distances

and provides better coverage. Especially relevant in larger offices where structural columns and walls are inevitable.

5 GHz may sound newer and faster—and it is—but it’s better in smaller spaces. If you want to cover a wide-open space, 2.4 GHz is better. Or, if your Wi-Fi has to travel through some dense objects before reaching you, 2.4 GHz will do a much better job of that than 5 GHz. With more people switching to 5 GHz, the 2.4 GHz band should also become less congested in your workplace.

2.4 GHz interfering

2.4 GHz devices more prone to interference. Just because more devices are using this frequency. But, with interfering devices getting retired, there should eventually be fewer devices capable of interfering with 2.4 GHz in your office. If 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi doesn’t resolve your issues and you still struggle to get a solid Wi-Fi connection, consider a mesh Wi-Fi system. This gives multiple access points you can place throughout your office and it does a great job of extending reliable coverage. The needed extenders for 2.4 GHz network will be significantly less than in 5 GHz infrastructure.

Next generation sensors of TableAir will have an embedded mesh Wi-Fi system that will solve any potential interference problems.

2.4 GHz Wi-Fi speed

2.4 GHz may perform slower data rates. However considering the amount of information transmitted from our sensors it's more than enough - 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi speed is quite sufficient.

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)

It's true that 2.4 GHz has been kind of neglected in WiFi 5. 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4) supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. But 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) only supports 5 GHz. If you have a dual-band 802.11ac router, it’s running a 5 GHz 802.11ac network and a 2.4 GHz 802.11n network. 5 GHz is using a more modern Wi-Fi standard. Wi-Fi 6 will fix this problem. The next-generation Wi-Fi standard will support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz network, so various improvements that add up to a faster, more reliable signal will make their way to 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi as well. 2.4 GHz isn’t just old technology that’s being left behind.

Looking even further into the future we have WiFi6E that will operate within 6 GHz bandwidth (in US), which is a completely new type of beast.

Wi-Fi routers

There are now typically two-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz routers on the market. There are devices that still use 2.4 GHz band for wireless connectivity hence the manufacturers haven’t stopped making routers with 2.4 GHz.

Other networking options

Networks such as LORA, Zigbee or Sigfox are also on our radar, however being able to utilise an existing WiFi network that exists at client location has been a big successful factor so we intend to continue providing this option.