Airport Extreme; to use or to not use separate SSID for 5GHz

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by halfmonkey, Feb 5, 2016.

  1. halfmonkey macrumors regular

    May 17, 2011
    I have a question about the set up on the tower AE. So in the wireless set up, you can check a box to create a separate SSID for 5GHz band I've been reading differing opinions from internet searches so I thought I would pose the question here. I understand the 5GHz is faster than 2.4GHz band but it has much shorter reach. I've read that people suggest not creating a separate SSID because either the device or the tower AE will automatically connect to the faster band. For my example, I have 2 iphone5's and 2 ipad2's along with other various wireless clients.

    For the Iph5 and ip2, would it truly connect to the faster band if the SSID was the same? Previously, I didn't give this any thought but my tower AE recently died and I replaced it and in going through the menu noticed that I could give it a separate SSID. Is it the AE that decides which band the device will connect to or the device that decides? I'd imagine that if distance wasn't a concern, you'd always want to connect to the fastest and therefore the 5GHz band, I should crate a separate 5GHz SSID and just have the iphone5 and ipad2 connect to that and only that band correct?

    I guess if at some point in the future, I find that the 5GHz is reaching where I need it to, I can always add an Airport Express or another Airport Extreme to extend the network. I would do extend it with a hard wire to the opposite end of the house and extend my network that way. I guess I wouldn't be too worried about the 2.4GHz being extended since it already has a much farther reach but I would definitely want to extend the 5GHz.

    Is there anything I need to know in extending the 5GHz band if I create a separate 5GHz SSID in the main Airport Extreme?
  2. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    @halfmonkey The AirPort is designed to automatically negotiate the best possible speed for the client based on signal strength and other factors. It is an intelligent process that works flawlessly for me when I keep the bands together. When I am on the second floor of my house I am always on 5 GHz (our Extreme is in the office on the second floor). When I go downstairs it automatically jumps to 2.4 or 5 GHz depending on where I am at and re-negotiates as I move around. Based on my testing, if you separate the bands into separate network names you run the risk of actually lowering your speeds. As a result, I recommend that you leave the 2.4 and 5 GHz networks under the same name and let the AirPort do the work.
  3. lo100469 macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2013
    I agree with Altemose, i tested both ways and did not see any benefit with separated networks.
    By the way, if you set up 2 different names for 5 and 2.4, taking calls from the mac will not work if your iPhone is on the other network. one more reason not to do it...
  4. bokkow macrumors 6502


    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I do see benefit in separate networks, the benefit of choise.

    I want my notebooks/computers to always connect to 5GHz AC and not switch around on their own.
    They're always within 5GHz coverage so why even give the option to switch to 2.4GHz? Over 5GHz I reach throughput of 75MBps (~600Mbps) whereas 2.4GHz maxes out at around 20MBps (~160Mbps). 2.4GHz is good enough for simple peripherals and the ones that might just be out of 5GHz range. I don't want the devices to decide on their own what band to use and hope it picks the fastest one automagically.

    Furthermore, when activating 5GHz on an Airport Extreme the default SSID given to that network is the existing one + 5GHz ("WLAN"/"WLAN 5GHz") making it separate networks by default.
  5. satinsilverem2 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 12, 2013
    Richmond, VA
    I had my AE setup with separate 2.4 and 5 GHz networks for a couple of years and while it worked I could tell that I was far from efficient. I live in a three story home with the Airport located centrally on the first floor. I could get a strong 5 GHz signal on the first and most of the second floor all of the time but as soon as I went up to the third it dropped. Also as soon as I went outside the home it would also drop. About six months ago I reset the router and decided to leave it as one SSID. From what I can tell the Airport is doing its job and is connecting to what ever is going to be the fastest connection type. Only once have I noticed that when I was close to the router that I was connected over 2.4 and not 5 GHz. I recommend just leaving it to automatic. The router is more than efficient enough to handle it on its own.
  6. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    5 GHz is on automatically regardless of whether you separate the network names or not.
  7. chabig macrumors 601

    Sep 6, 2002
    The 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks are always on, and the two networks are bridged (meaning they are the same logical network), whether the bands have separate names or not. Devices connected at 2.4GHz see devices connected at 5GHz and vice versa.
  8. priitv8, Mar 3, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016

    priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    I named my SSID-s separately for the simple reason that in my environment, the 2.4GHz signal is always couple of dB stronger and my Mac would always prefer it to the 5GHz connection.
    Hence I also could not take advantage of the wide channels.
    Now, with separate names, it will not even attempt to connect to 2.4GHz WLAN, unless I choose so.
  9. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    How can you check what speed 2.4 v 5 you are connected at?
  10. rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009
    i feel you need to call the 5ghz band separately , i don't know of any other way to force computers on 5ghz or 2.4 ghz without a separate name. they just automatically connect to the strongest signal and not the fastest speed

    --- Post Merged, Apr 24, 2016 ---
    the old windows version of airport utility will let you check the clients speeds in logging

    holding down the option key on airport utility 6 will bring up the client list where you can check its speeds also

    5.6 was better because it would give you the ip addresses of all wired clients too
  11. Teon macrumors regular


    Feb 14, 2016
    Ofc you need separate SSID !
    It will be easier to use network.
  12. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    Option click the Wi-Fi icon on any Mac running OS X. It will show under the "Channel" field.
    Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 1.33.15 PM.png
  13. bp1000 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2011
    I know this is an old thread but i would like to tag onto it.

    I'm currently trying to decided wether to merge both 2.4 and 5ghz.

    For this reason

    2.4Ghz in my home is so congested that the throughput is so poor its not even worth having.

    However, In the far corners of the 3 storey home, only 2.4GHz can actually reach. Luckily the AP (AEx) is on the middle floor landing, and the house is an open stairwell, so the signal travels pretty well!

    Therefore, i'm looking for some assurance that in all cases it will prefer 5Ghz and only fallback to 2.4Ghz if 5Ghz is not available?

    Also, with 5Ghz, lets say an older device connects that is only capable of a lower throughout, will that mean my latest Mac's and devices that can do multiple stream 5Ghz (theoretical speeds of 500-600Mbps) will these devices be knocked down to the lowest speed on whatever is connected on 5Ghz?
  14. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    In my experience, all apple devices select the strongest signal. And in my setup the 2.4 is aleays a tad stronger.
    Hence I had to rename 5GHz SSID differently so that all cloents stick to it.

    Re multi-stream : MB Air can do 2 and a Pro can do 3 parallel streams. I have both in household. I don’t see Pro losing in speed because Air is also on WLAN.
  15. bp1000 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2011
    Thank you

    That’s really helpful. I’m currently trialing the AEx and it’s working very well so far.

    5Gz is being preferred and hung onto in all cases so far.

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