Everything You Want To Know About Band Steering
Band Steering is a phrase you may not be familiar with, yet your Wi-Fi router may be performing it without your knowledge. It is a technology that aims to improve the consumer’s broadband internet experience. As it is a relatively new technology, many people are unaware of it.
Simply put, band steering will allow you to browse the internet in an uninterrupted and smooth manner. It is an ingenious technique designed for Wi-Fi networks that support numerous devices at the same time.
In this article, we will discuss in-depth what is band steering, why it’s beneficial and how to set it up.
It’s best to use the same SSID settings for both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels when setting up a dual-band network with Band Steering enabled.
What Is Band Steering?
Band steering is a technology that allows your router to connect to a network both old devices to access 2.4GHz networks and new devices that support ultra-fast 5GHz networks. It is worth noting that band steering is only possible on routers that enable dual-band Wi-Fi. If the router lacked this capability, it would be unable to handle both 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
Many other old devices will be able to connect to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks. Here is where band steering comes into play, assisting the router in effectively connecting to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks. You do not need to manually join both networks to do this.
The router will send the appropriate network band to each of these devices depending on their capabilities. The router will automatically split both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks amongst your devices in this manner to minimize network congestion and poor connectivity.
What Are Frequency Bands?
A frequency band is a subset of a broader frequency range. Wi-Fi operates on two frequency bands: 2.4 and 5 GHz. The earlier wireless protocols and technologies (802.11 b/g/n) utilize 2.4 GHz to send signals that go the farthest but at the slowest rates.
This frequency range is by far the most susceptible to interference from many other Wi-Fi networks, and other wireless equipment (Bluetooth, baby monitors), even microwave ovens, due to the great reach of its transmissions.
5 GHz is accessible to devices that use the most recent wireless protocols, such as 802.11ac, as well as certain earlier technologies, such as 802.11 a/n. The 5 GHz frequency band transmits wireless communications with a lesser range than 2.4GHz but the maximum speeds/performance.
Due to its better performance, this frequency range is preferred by newer computers and gadgets. Also because signals on this frequency band have a limited range, several access points are frequently required to give adequate coverage in a residence.
How To Set Up Band Steering?
To employ band steering, 5GHz Wi-Fi must have the same SSID as 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. Furthermore, the security settings must be the same.
- Navigate to Wireless LAN (5GHz). Select Enable 5GHz WLAN in General Setup and enter the same SSID as the 2.4GHz WLAN.
- Navigate to Wireless LAN (5GHz) >> Security Settings and enter the same security protocol and password as for the 2.4GHz WLAN for that SSID.
- Navigate to Wireless LAN (2.4GHz) >> Band Steering and specify the Check Time. The Check Time is the amount of time the access point/router should wait before enabling a new user to join to the 2.4GHz SSID. The user will attempt to connect to the 5GHz SSID throughout the Check Time.
When a wireless user connects to the AP/router with the aforementioned setup, it will be banned from the 2.4GHz SSID for 15 seconds, forcing it to connect to 5GHz Wi-Fi with the very same SSID. If the user does not access the 5GHz network within 15 seconds, it will be allowed to connect to the 2.4GHz SSID.
What Happens When There Is No Band Steering?
If your device does not enable band steering, the user or device must choose the appropriate frequency band. Most routers are configured by the manufacturer or service provider to have separate networks with distinct names and credentials for 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz.
It will then be up to the user to determine which network to login to and hence which frequency band to use. Worst case scenario, the user attempts to connect to a network that the device does not support, or to a network that delivers considerably worse performance than the device really supports.
Rather than relying on Band Steering to ease network congestion in a network with a lot of devices, managers should consider boosting the number of WiFi hotspots for clients to connect to.
How Band Steering Works
There are two types of scanning techniques used by wireless devices: passive and active. A passive scan involves the wireless client immediately scanning every channel for beacon frames issued by APs promoting their wireless networks.
During an active scan, the wireless user submits probe queries on every channel to APs advertising their wireless network in order to receive a probe return. The end user is then presented with a list of wireless network connections that are available.
The AP’s beacon packets do not promote the wireless network when Band Steering is activated. The SSID will be classified as concealed by client devices conducting a passive scan.
If the AP receives a probe request from a wireless client on the 2.4GHz band when band steering is active, it only replies if it has not received anything from the very same client on the 5GHz band in the previous 60 seconds.
The AP constantly monitors all probe requests, connection requests, and re-association requests received by all clients. If a 2.4GHz probe is obtained, the AP will not react if it has heard any of the frame types listed above on the 5GHz band during the last 60 seconds.
When one of these is viewed, the AP only sends the wireless network a sample response commercial as a reaction to a 5GHz sample after it receives one. This guides the customer towards the 5GHz band. If the AP hears only 2.4GHz samples from a wireless customer, a network advertising sample request will respond.
Band steering also works entirely regardless of signal strength. Though the signal strength is significantly lower on the 5GHz band than the 2.4GHz band, the AP would only answer the 5GHz band requests (only till the client has been noticed on that band in the previous 60 seconds).
Why Should You Purchase Dual-Band Routers?
Nowadays, many products require an internet connection to work as desired. With the introduction of smart home gadgets, such as intelligent speakers, set-top boxes and more, consumers are currently unknown to the Internet. As consumers go to the usage of IoT devices like smart amps and more connectivity with the same Wi-Fi network, the online experience is becoming congested.
Here’s where the band steering ability comes into play, assisting in the alleviation of network congestion. It is for this purpose that dual-band Wi-Fi routers are recommended. Users may control which network band their device connects to using these routers. To get as much out of Wi-Fi networks, users can manually modify the network band to their liking.
Four WiFi-Band Steering Myths
Band steering, like many other contemporary WiFi capabilities, is frequently overhyped. As a result, it’s critical to understand when and when band steering might and therefore should be utilized, as well as when it may do more harm than good.
Below are four frequent misconceptions regarding band steering, as well as some best practices recommendations.
1. Band Steering Is Standard
Band steering was never included in the IEEE 802.11 standard. Engineers at Aruba Networks happened to come up with the notion of steering dual-band clients to the 5 GHz band in the early days of 802.11n, and many other manufacturers eventually replicated the idea in various versions.
As a consequence, there is no “standard” for band steering, and that each vendor executes it uniquely, with some suppliers doing superior to others.
2. Band Steering Is Enabled Immediately
All SSID parameters should correspond in both bands when employing band steering, along with the SSID name, type of encryption and settings, vlant allocations. For certain providers, band steering is activated automatically when the SSID is specified and utilized on the two bands. However, band steering must be explicitly activated for other suppliers, which might not always happen immediately.
3. Band steering Must Always Be Utilised
Band steering typically implies that both the 2,4 GHz belt and five GHz band coverage regions are equal or at least approximately identical in order to work correctly. Band steering, nevertheless, will be troublesome if the 5 GHz coverage is substantially less and has voids in coverage, compared to the 2.4 GHz coverage.
While there are dual-Band access points over 5 to 6 years, many current networks have been constructed from a 2.4-GHz perspective and do not reflect the fact that 5 GHz signal attenuation at the very same power level is much higher than 2.4 GHz.
4. Band Steering Is Nothing More Than A Checkbox
Band steering is more than simply an offer; it differs considerably from one provider to another. There are presently several manufacturers that can modify the band management behavior according to the netwerk need with various variants and adjustable settings for band steering.
As mentioned in this article, band steering is not always recommended, but, if you want to connect multiple devices, this technology might just be the key! That being said, this guide is solely for a reference, and it’s important to note that that band steering capabilities differ based on manufacturers.