Apple, Cisco dis 2.4GHz, but should your ISP follow suit?

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Apple and Cisco recently teamed up to say that 2.4GHz is "not considered suitable for use for any business and/or mission-critical enterprise applications". It’s a bold statement that might surprise some IT professionals, and it’s something that all property owners providing Internet to their residents should understand. Point blank, enterprise customers shouldn’t be using an antiquated Wi-Fi band.

You can see why Apple and Cisco might have issues with their products being run over the crowded band. It's just not going to deliver the speed, throughput and reliability that's available in the 5 GHz. And, this could reflect poorly on the product if the customer doesn't understand the difference in the two Wi-fi options.

"Wi-Fi can work over one of two spectrum bands: 2.4GHz or 5GHz," explains Glenn Fleishman, Senior Contributor at MacWorld.  "The two bands have quite different properties and most of Apple and Cisco's products can operate simultaneously over both bands, removing some of the difficulty of building Wi-Fi networks that work best for whatever devices we attach to them which can be confusing for some users. Apple has tried to keep their customers from having to make a decision about which band to use, automatically choosing the right frequencies for speed, consistency, and range based on where your computer is relative to a base station at any given time."

But, with the Apple-Cisco document released earlier this month, aimed at IT professionals deploying Cisco WLANs, the focus is completely on a 5 GHz network layout as a best practice for all Apple devices. No recommendations for a 2.4 GHz-only or dual-band networks are made at all.

Elauwit CTO Taylor Jones says it is important to note that this recommendation is for enterprise clients where the types of devices are much more limited. There are still tons of consumer devices that are still exclusively 2.4GHz (dropcam, nest, and consumer electronics like stereos and cd players) so we would not recommend to turn it off completely.

Cisco put out a high-density standards manual that Elauwit uses to shape Wi-Fi deployments to this day.

What's the problem with the 2.4GHz band? Clint Brown, director of product marketing in strategic alliances at Broadcom explains it best to FierceWireless:

Brown said he thinks the FCC demonstrated a lot of vision when it allocated two chunks of spectrum for uses that include Wi-Fi. The 2.4GHz spectrum is analogous to a 1-acre park, with room for three channels, and it became the workhorse of Wi-Fi initially because it is almost ubiquitous around the planet. There are limitations on some of the upper channels in a few countries, but it's kind of been like the international park for Wi-Fi. The 8-acre park - 5GHz - was set aside as well, and it has a lot more rules; some countries won't allow Wi-Fi at 5GHz. In the U.S., however, it's quite open.

At Elauwit, we see the value in both channels as well. Jones points out that 5GHz does not have the range that 2.4GHz does. Additionally, 5GHz has 40+ independent channels and 2.4GHz has only 3. So, where 2.4GHz can reach beyond walls and floors, 5GHz is more open. For our end-users and our clients’ residents, we need to have both — for range, and for speed.

The same could be said for any property’s network. If you're residents are connecting to provided Wi-fi, but using the 2.4GHz band exclusively, their experience could reflect poorly on you and not the crowded spectrum through which they are connecting.

Which is why Elauwit exclusively uses wireless access points harnessing the latest 802.11ac standard at each of its properties. These devices run on the 5GHz spectrum, but allow for access to the 2.4GHz band (using 802.11n).

"We understand the needs of the next generation of equipment and build our networks accordingly," says Jones. "We started deploying dual-band networks in 2013 and haven’t looked back. It was what was best for our customers, so we made the switch. It's as simple as that."

If your ISP isn't putting your customers first when building your networks, you need a partner like Elauwit. Give us a call to see how we can help give your residents the best of what's available. Reach us at 800.948.5874 or at sales@elauwit.com.