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Does WiFi Band Steering actually work?

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Does WiFi Band Steering actually work or is it still buggy as all hell like I remember it being?
 
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I don't remember it ever being "buggy".

Does it work? Yes. But is it advantageous to use it? Not normally. Today's devices are designed to seek out and connect to the strongest wifi signals. That's typically a good thing. Wifi steering is used to force devices to connect to a particular WAP (wireless access point) even if that means connecting to a weaker signal.

Where it can be helpful is when used to connect to a specific "band". For example, if the router supports both 2.4 and 5GHz, you may want to force a device to connect to a less crowded 5GHz band even though a 2.4GHz signal may be stronger. So in some cases, "band steering" may be desirable.
 
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It is VERY useful on 4G enabled phones if you want your Wifi to always work, perhaps? Because the speeds are similar, phones can end up switching between Wifi and carrier all the time.

Mine does, atleast, and its effin annoying
 
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I'm not sure that is considered "wifi" steering since 4G (or 3G or 5G) is not wifi. I guess it could be considered "band steering" which is a similar concept. For years (long before 4G) I've been setting my cell phones to use wifi (when available). This feature came about before "unlimited data" cell plans became popular.

Why is it annoying for you?
 
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sorta, however one thing I noticed on my S9+ and my hubby's A20s is that band steering rarely kicks in even when I set more agressive steering on my UBNT UNIFI AP-ACs. I had to even create a seperate SSID because the samsungs grabbed 2.4ghz 90% of the time. Even trying the tricks on several forums including XDA.

However my moto nexus 6 and older samsungs and my windows 10 tablet seemed to be better about grabbing a 5ghz BSSID.
 
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I had to even create a seperate SSID
Ummm, that's normal because a router - or rather the WAP integrated with the router - sees the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands as two different networks. And considering the fact they "ARE" two different "radio" networks, they are two different networks that the router then combines with your 3rd network, the Ethernet network to make a 4th network, your LAN - your local area network!. That is, your LAN being everything on your side of your gateway device - typically the modem. And your modem then connects you to a 5th network, the Internet!

Well, actually, that's not even right. Your modem connects you to a 5th network, your ISP's wide area network (WAN). From there, you connect to the PoP (point of presence), the physical location where your ISP connects you to a 6th network, the Internet!

Clear as mud, huh?

Anyway, I don't know why your band steering does not work very well - but that would be an issue with the S9+ and A20s, not the router/WAP. My "guess" is you have a cell tower pretty nearby. Once a radio receiver locks on to a signal, by design they typically try to stay locked on to that same signal - at least until a much stronger signal comes along and your device can be "handed off" without interruption of service.

One thing to note about the 5GHz wifi band in particular is it is great if you are in the same room with the WAP. But 5GHz's effectiveness is severely limited by distance. Even as little as 30 feet can greatly affect and attenuate the signal strength. Add a barrier or two (wall, floor, ceiling) and fuhgeddaboudit!
 
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Layman's explanation

We have (2) 5 GHz and (1) 2.4 Ghz available here. ... I split the SOHO bands between the two 5 Ghz bands and guests use the 2.4 Ghz .... also means no password issues, as "guests' have no access to the 5 Ghz bands. The WiFi network(s) serves 5 floors in a 200 year old dairy barn (30' x 56' footprint) ... worse signal anywhere inside bounces back and forth between 4/5 and 5/5bars on the strength meter. No idea why it varies in same spot at different times oif day. The only issue w/ distance we have to deal with when using phones over WiFi is that the connection will break as it switches to 4G. If ya jump in the car while talking on the phone over WiFi, you lose WiFi when you get to the end of the driveway (@ 450 feet).

I also find many folks also refer to the practice of having the phone use WiFi instead on the cell network when within home WiFi range as "steering".... whether technically correct or not, not really important as I think most folks will understand the usage.
 
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Where it can be helpful is when used to connect to a specific "band". For example, if the router supports both 2.4 and 5GHz, you may want to force a device to connect to a less crowded 5GHz band even though a 2.4GHz signal may be stronger. So in some cases, "band steering" may be desirable.
Yes, this is my situation. I have a router that supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz.
 
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Yeah I know that there are 2 BSSIDs per SSID here, do yeah that is where your 2 networks theory does come from bill.

This is how easy it is to force it in Linux I love that. No need to create a manual 5Ghz only network. Hoever for the phones they have to be special snowflakes lol

wifi-stuff-linux-kde-band-steering-select.png
 

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I recently bought a MESH setup because this apartment fir some reason has lead walls or something the satellite is maybe 4m in my bedroom to my base in my PC room has trouble getting decent signal. But it’s just. Single access point so I don’t actually have any choice on which band my devices use and my devices often don’t switch ti the closer point despite having Beam Forming I suppose that‘a not exactly the same!? Bur sitting on my back deck my devices are still o; the basee despite+the satellite is right next to me, I’m right by my bedroom window. One it’s
Netgear so I should have know better but they were priced wrong so I got then very cheap.. The whole network crashes At least once.day or multiple time#. Got new firmware and was really hoping it would fix that....nope in fact I think worse niw
I wish I could believe the bean forming maybe actually did something, but outside of just having a single access pound(I I wish I’d read up on the. before I bought them because none of the crash fixes((there’s a fair amount od posts) f helped biut thought it would be better than my 2nASUS one as a repeater...
 
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Ubiquiti must have read this post or my mind or both LOL.. This appeared after I just upgraded the UNIFI controller. Let's see how good this is!
unifi-5-25-2020 11-11-39 PM.png
 
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Yes, this is my situation. I have a router that supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz.
Well, depending on the device, it is not hard to force most to connect with one band or the other. See force wireless device to use 5GHz band. But again, a major disadvantage of the 5GHz band is its very limited range. So there's no guarantee it will offer any improvement.

So I say, try it and see what happens. You can always switch it back.

If your 2.4GHz band is too crowded, you might look at changing channels to a less crowded channel instead. Crowded channels can really be a problem in crowded neighborhoods - especially in or near large apartment complexes. The newest WAPs are pretty good at finding the least crowded but not always. So you might want to use a packet sniffer. I use XIRRUS WiFi Inspector to see what wireless channels are in use and available. NirSoft's WifiInfoView is another good one. As are Acrylic WiFi Home and Homedale. The best is arguably inSSIDer but sadly, it is no longer free :(.

For Android phones there is WiFi Analyzer. And for iPhones, check out Fing Network Scanner.

The best solution is to find an unused channel where neither of its adjacent channels are in use either. If all channels are in use, look for the least crowded channel with the wifi network that has the weakest signal strength. When you have determined the best channel to use, go into your WAP's admin menu and manually select that channel. You do not have to make any changes to your wireless devices. They will pick up and use the new channel automatically.
 
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I, myself, use this one...
 
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Well, there you go.
 
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Linux has the best wifi tools lol :p even DISTROS for it XD
 
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Does WiFi Band Steering actually work or is it still buggy as all hell like I remember it being?
It works but also depends on the client as well.

I don't remember it ever being "buggy".
I don't recall it being "buggy" but I do recall it being lazy in some routers often forcing all clients onto 2.4ghz or 5ghz regardless of use or throughput demands.
 
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in some routers often forcing all clients onto 2.4ghz or 5ghz regardless of use or throughput demands.
Pretty sure "use or throughput demands" were never the criteria for which a band was chosen. IIRC, it was always about signal strength.
 
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Yes, this is my situation. I have a router that supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz.
I was playing around with the TP-Link A-9 recently and while it offers band steering I found it better to manually have the client assigned to each radio signal.

Pretty sure "use or throughput demands" were never the criteria for which a band was chosen. IIRC, it was always about signal strength.
from a SNB advertorial for engenius;

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.



Now in real life I'm sure its all about signal strength but I've also read reviews of clients sticking to one signal regardless of how much stronger the other signal was.

It is VERY useful on 4G enabled phones if you want your Wifi to always work, perhaps? Because the speeds are similar, phones can end up switching between Wifi and carrier all the time.

Mine does, atleast, and its effin annoying
I had a similar situation with a Qualcomm phone and Qualcomm router (you would think they would play nice) that the phone would drop the Wi-Fi signal every now and then. No such problem using a broadcom based routers.
 
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I knew but forgot about the "reducing the load on 2.4GHz" criteria. Thanks for that reminder.
 
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