How to Connect to a Device that Insists on a 2.4 GHz Wireless Network

How to Connect to a Device that Insists on 2.4 GHz WirelessWe recently upgraded our wireless network to a Google WiFi System.  A mesh network system is excellent for improving coverage in a home or office.  One thing that practically many mesh networks do is combine the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz bands together under the same SSID.  For those unaware of the benefits, the 5.0 GHz band provides significant throughput improvements but only at short distances from the router.

In the case of Google Wifi, the mesh network will typically prefer the 5.0 GHz network over the 2.4 GHz band.  Google WiFi has intelligence that determines when the 2.4 GHz bands will provide a more stable connection versus 5.0 GHz.  So suffice it to say, you will be connected to 5.0 GHz most of the time, that’s assuming your phone or tablet support that band.

Problem Encountered

You will run into issues with certain devices including home security cameras that insist on your phone or tablet being connected to the 2.4 GHz band in order to attach a new device.  This is typically the case when in order to initially set it up, you need to connect to the camera or device directly from your tablet or phone.  In other cases, the app checks for a 2.4 GHz connection and won’t proceed until you are connected to the requested band.

This 2.4 Ghz restriction is present in several home security cameras.  It’s also present with Google Protect, an Ambient Weather Station, and the WeMo Switch.  After the initial setup, the device typically is accessed through the cloud, and then the band will not matter.

Remedies

There are four remedies to the problem.  Let’s look at them from easiest to complex.

The easiest remedy is find an old phone or tablet that doesn’t support 5 GHz.  You’re going to need to go back a way since most modern phones and tablets support both bands.

Second suggested remedy is to give the 5 GHz band a different name, at least until you complete the setup.  After the setup, you might be able to rename it back to the same name.  This remedy isn’t possible on all mesh systems.  For example, Google WiFi will not allow you to do this.

So now we get into some more complex remedies to the problem.

Leave Home

This remedy involves getting far enough away from the router or puck to get off the 5 GHz band.  Remember, the faster 5 GHz band is only effective at short distances and when the connectivity stability is degraded, an intelligent mesh network will move you to 2.4 GHz.  You will likely need to go outside, maybe climb a fence, go visit the neighbor.

The point is to get as far as possible to make the network connect your phone or tablet to 2.4 GHz.  You can check this on your phone or tablets network settings.  Once it swings over to 2.4 GHz then it’s time to connect your device or home security camera.

Setup a Hotspot

This is probably the most complex of the remedies.  You must have a phone that supports establishing your own WiFi hotspot and allows selection of bands.  Turn off your home WiFi, setup a hotspot with your phone, disable the 5 Ghz band (or just enable the 2.4 GHz band) and give it the same name as your home network.

Do your connection, then turn the Google WiFi back on.

All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way.  I have owned and tested dozens of cameras.  Manufacturer support varies.  There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions.  There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).