April 14, 2005 4:00 AM PDT

FAQ: Wi-Fi alphabet soup

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What are the pros and cons of various Wi-Fi standards?
802.11b is the oldest and currently the most widely used Wi-Fi standard. Consumers have considerable choice in gear, which is often cheaper than products supporting newer standards such as 802.11a and 802.11g. 802.11b has lower bandwidth and shorter range compared with other types of Wi-Fi.

802.11a has higher throughput than 802.11b, but is not compatible with 802.11b or 802.11g. It has been the least popular flavor of Wi-Fi, although manufacturers are beginning to include it in products alongside 802.11b and 802.11g.

802.11g is faster than 802.11b and is compatible with it. But, like 802.11b, it is more susceptible than 802.11a to interference from common household appliances, such as cordless phones and microwave ovens, that operate in the 2.4GHz radio band.

MIMO transmits data at the highest rates, but it is not an industry standard. In addition, products based on MIMO generally cost more than devices based on 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g.

Can I combine products based on different Wi-Fi standards?
The 802.11g and 802.11b standards are compatible. That means if you have an 802.11b client, such as a notebook, it can connect to an 802.11g access point.

The 802.11n is also expected to be compatible with its Wi-Fi predecessors. MIMO products are already on the market and manufacturers have made it a point to make them compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g-based products.

Products based on 802.11a are not compatible with products based on other Wi-Fi standards.

Compatibility is becoming less of a problem, however, as manufacturers increasingly support all three Wi-Fi standards in their devices.


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Its a good story.. heres a little more..
I applaud the author for doing a lot of research on this issue. As someone implementing this in the buisness world, and using all of these technologies, plus others.. there is a lot more complexity to these devices as well as their ramifications.

One thing we need to stress as technology people is security in these wireless devices. Most people are implementing these devices with little or worse yet no security only to have problems with legal, sarbanes-oxley or HIPPA later on down the road.

In addition, the standards and naming can be a little confusing. What is being referred to in the article as 108MB Pre-N is not really pre-N, it is tagged as Super-G. The new Pre-N / N proposed standards are supposed to deliver (And ill treat this supposed as if a Microsoft representative said it if you know what i mean..) almost 1G of data bandwidth shared between all users on the Access point at the core and no less than 500MB of combined data at the fringe points. And oh yeah.. the fringe point is supposed to be almost a 1/4 mile in legnth.

When/If Pre-N/N ever really becomes a commonplace the need for higher security and responsibility becomes even that much more. Deployment of these devices without planning, security and site surveys opens persons and companies up to great liability. Dont believe me.. you will when homeland security comes knocking at your door one day for something your neighbor 3 doors down did on your internet connection.

Just a few thoughts.. but its nice to see something about wireless published where the author did their homework instead of spewing market press by some vendor.

Thanks for letting me give my 2 cents!

Be Well..

"We can never see past the choices we don't understand." - You should know who said this and why.
Posted by (55 comments )
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802.11b has lower bandwidth and shorter range compared with other types of
802.11b has longer range in my experiences and in theory.
Posted by Yo-Min, Chu (2 comments )
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depends on the manufacturer
In theory, yes - in my experience, definitely not.
My new noname chinese .g+ cable router + access point(108 speed in theory) has a much better range (and it is fast)than my older Linksys .b thingie...
Posted by googey10 (27 comments )
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