Wireless Network Technologies

As wireless technologies become more ubiquitous, keeping yourself up-to-date with standards and technologies may help you select the right Wireless solution for your needs. Here is a list of the most common wireless technologies used in offices and homes:

802.11b – Up to 11 megabits per second (Mbps) with good signal range, it’s a low cost solution. It uses the 2.4 GHz frequency and allows fewer simultaneous users than the latest technologies. The 2.4GHz frequency is prone to interference from cordless phones, microwave sources such as, microwave ovens and other appliances.

802.11a – Up to 54Mbps with a smaller signal range than the 802.11b but allows more users to connect simultaneously. This technology uses the 5 GHz frequency which limits interference from other devices but is more easily obstructed by walls and other obstacles. This technology is not compatible with 802.11b network devices such as, network adapters, routers and access points.

802.11g – Up to 54 Mbps under optimal conditions, supports more simultaneous users than 802.11b, has very good signal range and is not easily obstructed. This technology is compatible with 802.11b network adapters, routers, and access points. It uses the 2.4 GHz frequency and hence, has the same interference problems! It is a low cost solution when compared to 802.11n.

802.11n – Up to 600Mbps (raw data rate), the real speed would be 100 Mbps. This technology uses a multiplexed mechanism known as multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) which uses multiple transmitter and receiver antennas for increased data throughput. Most 802.11n devices are compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g.

Several standards exist, however those described above are the most common. For example, there are technologies that support device roaming between access points such as VoIP roaming. Reasonably priced WAPs available from stores are 802.11g and 802.11n. Note, that the term 802.11x is a term used to describe the family of 802.11 standards.