April 14, 2005 4:00 AM PDT
FAQ: Wi-Fi alphabet soup
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How do various Wi-Fi standards compare on speed?
The 802.11b standard offers a top data transfer speed of 11mbps under optimal conditions, but it typically achieves about half that rate in the real world.
The 802.11g and 802.11a standards top out at data transfer speeds of 54mbps under optimal conditions. Like 802.11b, they generally perform at half their top speed in real-world installations.
Manufacturers of MIMO products say throughput can reach more than 108mbps. Ultimately, the IEEE is aiming for speeds from 100mbps and higher for the 802.11n standard.
What manufacturers currently sell MIMO gear?
A number of wireless networking chipmakers, such as Airgo and Atheros, are manufacturing their own versions of MIMO parts and several gear companies have been shipping products using those chips. Belkin and Linksys use Airgo's MIMO chips in their MIMO products. Belkin calls it MIMO
Early reviews of these products indicate that the less-expensive RangeMax gear is more complicated to use and can potentially interrupt other, nearby Wi-Fi networks. Pre-N products offer higher throughputs at the outer edges of their range, but they cost more.
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