Ask LH: Can A Home Network Use More Than One Frequency?

Ask LH: Can A Home Network Use More Than One Frequency?
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Dear Lifehacker, My question is about dual-band routers: can they create a single network that uses both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies? More specifically, if my newer PC is connected to the 5 GHz frequency, and my older wireless printer is connected to the 2.4 GHz frequency, can I print wirelessly? Thanks, Thinking Twice About Dual Band


A dual band router can’t really “create” a network that uses both frequencies, because that would in one sense destroy the reason for having a dual band router in the first place.

However, at a technical level there really shouldn’t be an issue with a dual band router getting a printer and laptop talking wirelessly even if they’re sitting on different bands. It’s easy to see where the confusion creeps in, because your brain logically tends to think that they’re sitting on “different” networks — and in one sense they are.

When you connect your laptop to your printer wirelessly, you’re generally not setting up a 1:1 connection between the two devices (leaving Bluetooth aside), but instead directing traffic through your router, which should be able to manage the traffic flow without issue. It’s the brain behind the whole network anyway.

Notice how I used the word “should” there?

As with anything networking related, there can always be hiccups and stumbles along the way, especially with older networked printers. Some dual band routers may partition data between networks, because this can be handy for traffic prioritisation, and that may need to be disabled. As with anything networking related, there can be small quirks that need to be addressed, but in the broad sense, there’s no reason why a properly configured wireless printer shouldn’t be available to all users on the same dual-band router.


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  • “Notice how I used the word “shouldn’t” there?”

    Nope, i see where you said “should” though….

  • In trying to explain, this article has just made things more confusing with all the disclaimers and “shoulds”.

    So to make it simpler for the novice questioner, it would have been better just to say:

    1. Modems/routers create a single network
    2. All devices on that network will be able to interact with each other
    3. All devices use that network regardless of whether they are connected via wires or wireless
    4. A wireless connection is just that … a wireless connection
    5. It doesn’t really matter what frequency that connection uses
    6. If the modem you have can’t do this … get one that can

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