What is Channel Bonding?
Channel bonding is a new feature in channel planning for Wireless-N technology and a big part of the Wireless N speed increase. For Wireless-G and Wireless-B, signals were transmitted using a slice of the operating band 20MHz wide (this is called a channel). Under channel bonding, two 20MHz channels instead of one are used by one router, increasing the rate of transmission of data.
2.5GHz and 5GHz
Channel bonding is primarily intended for use with the very wide 5GHz band. Neighboring wireless routers have to operate on different non-overlapping channels in order to avoid interference and thus lower signal quality. Since 5GHz has a lot of available channels, it’s generally easy to use channel bonding without having interference problems with other devices. While channel bonding can also be used with the 2.4GHz band on a Wireless-N router, there are certain limitations. The main problem is that the 2.4GHz is much narrower than the 5GHz band – only three non-overlapping channels are available (four in many countries outside North America).
The other problem with using channel bonding on 2.4GHz is the issue of that band’s crowdedness. Not only are most routers currently in use using Wireless-G and thus the 2.4GHz band, but other wireless devices such as Bluetooth headsets and cordless keyboards often use this band as well. This of course is only made worse if a router is taking up two channels instead of one, which is why channel bonding on this band is most often unfeasible in populated areas. In this way much of the purported Wireless N speed boost relies on the 5GHz band being used.
In conclusion, channel bonding is a very useful feature of Wireless-N capable routers. It boosts data transfer rates and is one of the main sources of Wireless N’s speed increase relative to Wireless G. While channel bonding can be used with the 2.4GHz band, this is rarely viable in heavily populated areas.