Tri-band routers are the latest development in Internet connectivity, but despite all the hype, most people don’t really understand the technology. If you’re considering an upgrade to boost your speeds, here’s a rundown of what you need to understand about these products.

How They Work

Your connected devices typically run on either 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies. If you have a single-band router, you’re confined to one frequency. A dual-band router lets you use both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies simultaneously. With both options at your fingertips, you can choose the frequency with the least congestion and highest speeds to maximize your connectivity.

A tri-band router takes this strategy a step further by offering another 5GHz channel. This gives you another frequency to route your wireless activity through. Most homes today have several connected devices using the Internet through a single router, including smart phones, tablets, computers, and gaming systems. Dual-band and tri-band routers essentially give you added lanes for the traffic.

Understanding Tri-Band Connection Speeds

The connection speeds advertised for a tri-band router are an aggregated throughput for all three bands. Therefore, a router with a maximum speed of 600Mbps for the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps for each 5GHz band will have a total maximum speed of 3200Mbps. It’s important to understand that you won’t enjoy the entire 3200Mbps on any single band.

How Tri-Band Routers Speed Up Connections

If you’re still working with a maximum speed of 1300Mbps on your 5GHz band, you may wonder where the benefits are with a tri-band router. After all, you’re not really connecting faster on any one band. First, it’s important to remember that your router determines less of your connection speed than that determined by your Internet service provider. Maximum connection speeds are rarely achieved no matter how high, so increasing the potential maximum doesn’t often help with your connectivity.

speeds

The real benefit of a tri-band router is that it reduces congestion on each band. Instead of having four devices connected to the Internet through a single 5GHz channel, you can cut congestion in half by connecting just two through each band. Think of your wireless connections as traffic congestion on the highway of your router. While a tri-band router doesn’t increase the speed limit, it does add another lane.

Who Needs a Tri-Band Router

Tri-band routers cater to a very specific audience. If you live alone and use just one or two standard devices at a time, a tri-band router won’t really improve your experience. However, Linksys summed up the perks of a tri-band router well when they marketed their product to “families who have a lot of devices” and “single users that demand high performance on a single device.” If you have a lot of people in your household or you’re a gamer who needs an entire band dedicated to your device, this technology is for you.

Though tri-band routers aren’t an effective solution for everyone, they will have increased relevance as households gain more connected devices. If you can use the extra band for your online activity, this pick may improve the way you experience the Internet.