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WIFI Standards 802.11 abgn & ac, Speed, and Protocol Explained

In this article, we discuss the different Wi-Fi standards and other similar technologies. We also include a Wi-Fi standards comparison in order to better understand their evolution. Wi-Fi standards are regularly updated just like Smartphone have system updates. The most recent Wi-Fi standard is 802.11ac which was released in May 2018.

What do 802.11 standards mean in wifi?

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) developed the first WLAN standard in the year 1997. 802.11 is named after the team which was made to oversee its operation and development. 802.11, however, had a bandwidth of 2 Mbps which was very slow for most of its applications.

802.11b

This Wi-Fi standard was the improvised version of the earlier introduced 802.11a introduced in the year 1999 by IEEE itself.  The improved version had a bandwidth of 11 Mbps which was very much comparable to the traditional Ethernet. 802.11b uses the same radio frequency of 2.4 GHz. Home appliances such as microwave oven and telephones can obstruct the signal.

PROS

Low cost
Signal doesn’t get easily obstructed by any other applications
A strong network

CONS

Maximum speed is slow
The signal may get obstructed by common home appliances

802.11a

While the Wi-Fi standard 802.11b was still in the development process, a second extension was created namely 802.11a. Wireless standard 802.11b gained more popularity and 802.11a having a higher price range sold less. That is the reason why Wi-Fi standard 802.11b was used in the home while offices used 802.11a. The wireless standard 802.11a supports a bandwidth of 54 Mbps and uses radio frequency or 5 GHz.

PROS

Very fast max speed
Other devices cannot interfere with the regulated radio frequencies

CONS

Higher price
Short signal coverage

802.11g

WLAN products with newer standard emerged in the market in the year 2002-2003 which was called 802.11g is a combination of both the previous versions 802.11a and 802.11b. The newly introduced standard had a bandwidth of 54 Mbps and a radio frequency of 2.4 GHz which covered a larger area.

PROS

High maximum speed
A good signal range which doesn’t get obstructed easily

CONS

Price is higher than 802.11b
The unregulated radio signals may get obstructed

802.11n

802.11n was an improvement over the 802.11g and is also commonly known as Wireless N. The Wi-Fi standard had a bandwidth of 300 Mbps. The idea was to use multiple wireless signal and antennas to increase the Wi-Fi standards and speed. It was introduced in the year 2009 and is backward compatible with 802.11b/g.

PROS

Fast maximum speed
Good signal
Resistant to signal obstruction

CONS

Costs more than 802.11g
Not yet finalized
Usage of multiple signals causes network interference

802.11ac

It is the most recent Wi-Fi standard in use today. The 802.11ac uses the Dual band wireless technology and supports both 5 GHz and 2.5 GHz. The bandwidth has a maximum speed of 1300 Mbps and provides up to 450 Mbps in 2.5 GHz mode.  It is backward compatible with 802.11b/g/n and also follows all the Wi-Fi standard protocols.

PROS

Improved bandwidth
Flexibility of choice among 2.5 GHz or 5 GHz

CONS

Increased cost due to dual bands
May still face interference from 2.5 GHz

I hope you have got a fair idea about the various Wi-Fi standards for choosing the best for your application by reading the Wi-Fi standards in this article. Thank you for reading and have a nice day.

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