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We use a wireless router every single day in our life. The 24*7 availability of WiFi has become a necessity these days. At times we do however realize that the router is not performing well and we are experiencing slowness in the Wi-Fi speed. And this is the time when knowing about the best WiFi channel for 5GHz might be your savior.
The slowness in performance might be because of various reasons but the most prominent reason is the usage of default router settings. Wi-Fi routers are configured to deliver optimal performance as per the vendor, however, for a lot of users, the default setting might not guarantee the best performance. Thankfully, we can change the default settings in a Wi-Fi router and extract the best performance out of it. One of the settings that we can change is the channel for 5GHz frequency band.
If your wireless router is not delivering optimal performance it is time to change the wireless channel frequency which brings us to the main question, what is the best 5GHz channel? In this article, we will talk in detail about channel selection, radio frequency and a lot more.
What is a 5GHz band?
Before talking about the best channel for 5GHz, you need to understand how a Wi-Fi router functions. A router is basically a network device that uses radio waves to transmit data. These radio waves are transmitted in all the directions and the end-user devices which are present in the Wi-Fi range will receive this data. In simple words, this is how a router functions.
Now, there are two frequency bands in a router. They are the 2.4GHz band and the 5GHz band. The 5GHz band offers high bandwidth and a lower range whereas the 2.4GHz band has long range but offers less bandwidth. Talking about speeds, the 5GHz band supports speeds up to 1300 Mbps, while the 2.4GHz can offer speeds only up to 450 or 600 Mbps. The 2.4GHz band is certainly widely used, however, the 5GHz frequency band is certainly the future of WiFi.
Nowadays a single router can have both of these frequency bands. These routers are popularly known as dual-band routers. A router that can host three different frequency bands is known as a Tri-band router.
Now that we know about the frequency bands, let’s move on to Wi-Fi channels.
Wi-Fi Channels at 5GHz
A router releases signals in open space at a certain width. This is known as a channel. Higher the channel is, the wider the band will be. To put this in simple terms, if you are on a higher channel you will notice a huge increase in performance.
The 5GHz frequency band has over 20 channels. These channels are segregated into four different bands that serve different purposes. These bands are called UNII-1, UNII-2, UNII-3, and UNII-4.
UNII stands for the Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure. As per this Wikipedia article, UNII radio band is part of the radio frequency spectrum used by IEEE 802.11a devices and by many wireless ISPs. It operates over four ranges as we have mentioned above.
Let’s take a closer look at the different bands before we talk about the best channel for the 5GHz router.
Starting with UNII-1, it constitutes of channels 36, 40, 44 and 48. These are the lowest channels available at the 5GHz frequency band. These channels are specifically used for home-use and a majority of devices run on these channels. Due to this reason, you will find heavy traffic on these channels. The frequencies in this band range from 5,150MHz to 5,250MHz.
The UNII-2 constitutes of four channels as well – 52, 56, 60, and 64. The frequency in this band ranges from 5,250MHz to 5,350MHz. This range from 52-64 is also known as UNII-2A.
This range is also further divided into UNII-2B and UNII-2C/UNII-2. The frequency in the UNII-2B ranges from 5,350MHz to 5,470MHz. As far as the UNII-2C/UNII-2 Extended range is concerned, the range goes from 5,470MHz to 5,725MHz. Channels from 100 to 140 are included in this range.
Now, any device cannot use this range. Your device must have the DFS and TPC feature enabled. DFS is short for Dynamic Frequency Selection and TPC stands for Transmit Power Control. DFS technology enables the Wi-Fi router to automatically select the best channel without any kind of overlap with weather stations, radars and military devices.
The UNII-3 is also known as the UNII Upper range. The frequency range goes from 5,725MHz to 5,850MHz. Channels 149, 153, 157, 161, and 165 constitute UNII-3. This band is often referred to as the UNII-3/ISM range. The reason being, it overlaps with the frequencies designated to the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical band, i.e ISM. To use these channels, you must have DFS and TPC enabled on your device.
UNII-4 is the highest region. It is also known as DSRC/ITS. Dedicated Short Range Communications Service is what DSCR stands for. Channel 165 is part of UNII-4, the lowest channel in this region. The channels in this range are reserved for DSRC and even if your device supports this, it’s not recommended to be used.
Best WiFi Channel for 5GHz
Given that the UNII-1 channels and are specifically for home use. They are therefore considered as the best channel for Wi-Fi 5GHz. If your device supports DFS and TPC, you should definitely go for the higher channels as you will find less interference and better performance.
One thing that you should keep in mind is your regular smart devices as well as smart home appliances also use UNII-1 channel to communicate, so there might be chances that these devices might interfere with each other. A solution to this is to keep your router away from any smart devices like smart bulbs or smart home appliances, which have the ability to connect wirelessly.
How do you Tackle Congestion
Since we know by now that 36, 40, 44, 48 is the best channel for WiFi 5GHz, however, there are also chances of congestion. This might be experienced if you have many Wi-Fi devices in your vicinity that are using the same channel. It can cause interference and can reduce Wi-Fi performance. This might happen because the 5GHz frequency bands Offer less range and penetration.
In order to select the best channel, you can use an app called Wi-Fi analyzer. This app will check for channel congestion in your vicinity and suggest the best channel that you can use to extract the most performance out of your wireless network. This app will take a lot of things into consideration such as the number of devices around the router location, radio waves, etc and only then recommend the best channel. It will also show you the rating of every channel so that you can make a sensible decision.
After reading this article you now know that channel 36, 40, 44, 48 is the best channel for Wi-Fi 5GHz. You can always opt for a higher frequency if your router supports DFS that is Dynamic Frequency Selection. All the modern routers today have DFS built-in and they also offer an automatic channel selection which is a good idea if you are not very tech-savvy. You can always take help from the Wi-Fi analyzer app if you want to stay on the best channel possible, to avoid congestion and increase the wireless throughput.
We at WiFi router reviews have worked hard on preparing this article so that you get in-depth information on the Wi-Fi frequency bands as well as the best 5GHz channel. We hope you are able to find the best 5GHz channel which will help you improve your Wi-Fi performance. If you have any thoughts to add to this, do let us know in the comment section below.
Hi, I’m Ian. I’m a Cisco Certified Network Professional and I’m in love with networking. On this blog, I write how-to guides and review Wireless Routers and other network devices. You can check out my website below.