2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz Use In Practice Today

In a previous post I’ve looked at 3GPP band 46, the band number assigned in 3GPP Release 13 to the 5 GHz band currently mostly used by Wifi only. So how pristine is this beachfront property today? Let’s have a look at my place in Cologne and compare it with use of the 2.4 GHz band.

The difference is actually quite stunning. The first picture shows the number of Wi-Fi access points my own Wi-Fi access point can see around itself in the 2.4 GHz band.


Yes, that’s 17 other access points around me that use channel 1, the same channel my access point (green circle) also uses. There is no point to select another channel, as they aren’t any better. The number of access points doesn’t yet say much about how much the channel is actually used. According to my access point it’s around 20% continuously with spikes of up to 60%

Let’s compare that to the number of access points in the 5 GHz band my AP can see:


Yes, that’s right, I’m alone on channel 36-48. There’s one access point on channel 52 to 64 and one on 100 to 112 and another 3 access points (actually 1 which has 3 virtual SSIDs) at the end of the 5 GHz band. That’s pretty empty! Also interesting in this picture, by the way, is that my AP supports any channel between 36 and 140, i.e. there’s 500 MHz of bandwidth compared to the meager 60 MHz that is available in the 2.4 GHz band.

The final picture confirms that I’m alone on my channel so far. There’s no traffic except for the peak in the middle that I generated myself by downloading a file at 50 Mbit/s over my DSL line.


The x axis is in minutes, the y axis shows channel usage in % from 0 to 100.

2 thoughts on “2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz Use In Practice Today”

  1. Do you do anything special to force any of your devices to use the less used 5GHz band?

    I’m fortunate to live in a house in the suburbs, so I only ever see a maximum of 1 or 2 other networks (at low power levels) sharing a 2GHz channel – 5GHz seems to be free for me alone, so I’ve not been too concerned about any directed band usage.

    1. Hi Mark,

      > Do you do anything special to force any of your devices to use the less used 5GHz band?

      I use a different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz and I’ve only configured the SSID of the 5 GHz Wifi on my PC.


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