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Wireless How To

This article is sponsored by EnGenius.

EnGenius Band Steering

EnGenius Band Steering

"Dual-band" Wi-Fi devices can connect to either 2.4 or 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks. However, when connecting to most consumer routers and many access points, the device determines which band it connects to. This can result in more devices connected to the very busy 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network and fewer devices on the relatively uncrowded 5 GHz band.

Fortunately, there are access points with band steering that will direct dual-band devices to connect to the 5 GHz Wi-Fi network. Since many Wi-Fi devices operate on the 2.4 GHz band only, automatically steering 5 GHz capable devices to that band reduces the load on 2.4 GHz and usually improves overall connection quality in both bands.

Let's look at an EnGenius Electron Series Dual-Band Access Point to demonstrate band steering setup. Band steering is available on most EnGenius Neutron and Electron Series Access Points.

Follow the steps below to enable Band Steering, starting with the AP at factory defaults:

  1. Go to the Network > Wireless menu. Scroll down to Wireless Settings - 2.4GHz and click Enable next to an SSID. Enter an SSID in the 2.4 GHz band. In the below image, I've created SSID = Smallnet13.
  2. Click Edit next to the newly created SSID.
  3. A new window appears. Select your Security Mode, Encryption, and Passphrase.
  4. Click Save at the bottom of the new window. The window will close.
  5. Scroll down to Wireless Settings - 5GHz menu and repeat steps 2-5, using the same values you used on the 2.4 GHz band for SSID, Security Mode, Encryption, and Passphrase and click Save.
  6. Scroll back to the top and click Enable on the Band Steering option.
  7. Scroll to the bottom and click Save.
  8. Once the the Save completes, click on Changes in the top right corner. Click Apply in the window that appears. Once the window closes, your changes are now active in the AP.

The image gallery below has screenshots for each of the steps above.

I ran a few quick tests on the Band Steering feature using two dual-band devices: a Lenovo ThinkPad with an Intel 6300 AGN Wi-Fi adapter; and Apple iPhone 5s. I first disabled the Band Steering feature and connected both devices to the AP. In each case, the device connected to the 2.4 GHz network as shown in the screenshot below from the Overview > Connections menu.

Band Steering Disabled

Band Steering Disabled

I then disconnected the devices, enabled Band Steering and reconnected the devices to the AP. In both cases, EnGenius Band Steering pushed 5 GHz capable devices to the 5 GHz network, as shown in the screenshot below.Band Steering Enabled

Band Steering Enabled

The key to using Band Steering is creating Wi-Fi networks with the same SSID on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. In my tests, EnGenius Band Steering did the trick and steered 5 GHz capable devices to the 5 GHz Wi-Fi network. The value of this feature is more even distribution of devices on your Wi-Fi network, as well as improved performance due to reduced 2.4 GHz congestion. Directing 802.11ac enabled devices to 5 GHz can also improve throughput, since AC's higher speeds are available only in that band.

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