I'm connecting to an SFR 'La Box' optic fibre wifi router / modem in France (with 180Mbs down, 10Mbs up) - which has a feature I've not come across before on a wifi router:

parallel 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks - using the same names and passwords by default

As explained in the system settings:

You have at your disposal two types of networks Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz b/g/n and 5GHz a/n/ac). Both networks have a common name: Numericable-abcd. These two networks can be configured and used independently. You can disable or enable your convenience your Wi-Fi networks.

Using a mid-2015 15" macbook pro - and experiencing random wifi "dropouts":

  • macbook menu bar shows a full strength wifi signal / connection
  • browser / app will say you're not connected to the internet
  • internet TV still works - indicating that it's not a problem with the router's external connection.
  • turning macbook wifi off then on - or waiting a few minutes - fixes the problem

Also - I only seem to get a 25-30m wifi range - which seems low (at least for a 2.4GHz system).

Is my model of macbook pro able to switch seamlessly between frequencies on the same network - or would I get better performance by turning one network off (or using different network names) ?

Could the wifi chip become 'confused' by having parallel networks - and could it be what's causing the loss of connection and/or lack of wifi range ?

System Settings Screenshot:

SFR La Box System Settings


The short answer is YES it is capable. I have a Macbook Pro 13" Retina Late 2013 model running El Capitan. I am running a Dual Band Router 2.4 and 5.0 by ASUS. The difference of my setup is that I gave the 2.4 and 5.0 different names so they appear separately in my wifi list. I have it set to access the 5.0 first and if for some reason it is not available it will connect to the 2.4 band. I have it set the same on my iPhone, iPad as well. I have not experienced any connectivity problems and the range is quite good.

Have you tried setting each band with a separate SSID? PW can be the same if you want.  Actually I have even a guest SSID setup too and it too works just fine. 
  • thanks for the answer - I guess my question regarding the MBP is more specifically can it switch seamlessly between two frequencies on the same network ? (i'll update the question to be more accurate) - so your advice is to have the two frequencies as (effectively) separate networks and put them in different order in System Preferences -> Network -> Wi-Fi -> Advanced -> 'Drag networks into the order you prefer' ? – goredwards Jun 3 '16 at 8:03
  • btw that's a pretty good alternative that I hadn't thought of - at least that way you get the advantages of 5GHz and can fall back to the 2.4GHz when necessary (eg range problems on 5GHz) ! – goredwards Jun 3 '16 at 8:13
  • Yes, I am glad you think so. I hope it works as seamlessly as it has for me. – Mark OneWolf Jun 5 '16 at 19:23

Chances are, it's your WiFi router.

I was having the exact same issue with 2 Macs (iMac 27 Late 2012 and a 2009 MBP) as well as a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. I had both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks and would get random, but continual dropouts that would lose Internet connectivity.

I disabled each network individually, first the 5GHz , then the 2.4GHz. Running on one frequency at a time, had no effect - I still kept dropping connections. I even completely disabled the WiFi in the router and connected another router running DDWRT acting solely as a WAP that was only capable of 2.4GHz. Even that had problems

What I found was that the build quality of even the so-called best routers (Netgear, D-Link, Asus, etc.) were still of poor quality. I ended up getting an "Enterprise Grade" wireless access point - the Ubiquiti UAP-AC - did my problems go away.

When I say, go away, I mean go away instantly. From the time I installed this WAP, I have yet to have an Internet drop out. Period. I haven't had a single one in the month and a half I have had it installed. The fix was instantaneous.

If you do go this route, what you will have to do is turn off the WiFi on your router and just use this external WAP. Installation was super easy - it took about 10-15 mins total and I had my network up and running in no time.

  • thanks for the answer - had a look at the Ubituiti access point you referenced and it gets amazing reviews - I suppose the only way to know is to borrow / buy one and compare :-) would be nice if there was a diagnostic tool to figure out what's causing the dropouts... i'll check the router log files and update the question if I see anything pertinent – goredwards Jun 3 '16 at 8:13
  • ...as a followup ended up getting a Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LR and it's amazing - thanks for the idea ! – goredwards Oct 14 '16 at 22:55

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