Wireless Networking Guide

What is wireless networking?

Technically, wireless networking refers to any data exchange between PCs and other devices which doesn't involve cables. This is acheived by sending and transmitting data through the use of radio signal and an antennae.Wireless networks operate just like your car recieves the radio or your TV recieves it's picture with the exception that wireless networks can send data back.The radios used for WiFi communication are very similar to the radios used for CB Radios, walkie-talkies and mobile phones except WiFi has the following advantages;

  • Wireless or WiFi transmits at frequencies of 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. (Much like your cordless phones in your house. It should also be noted that cordless phones can interfere with wireless reception).The higher frequency allows the wireless signal to carry more data.
  • WiFi devices use 802.11 networking standards, which come in a few different flavors.

IEEE 802.11a-1999 or 802.11a is an amendment to the IEEE 802.11 specification that added a higher throughput of up to 54 Mbit/s and uses the 5 GHz band.
802.11b is the slowest standard. It can only handle up to 11 megabits of data per second, and it uses.

IEEE 802.11g-2003 or 802.11g, is an amendment to the IEEE 802.11 specification that extended throughput to up to 54 Mbit/s using the same 2.4 GHz band as 802.11b. This specification has been implemented all over the world and is by far the most popular.

IEEE 802.11n is a proposed amendment to the IEEE 802.11-2007 wireless networking standard to significantly improve network throughput over previous standards, This standard significantly improves speed and range. For instance, although 802.11g theoretically moves 54 megabits of data per second, it only achieves real-world speeds of about 24 Mbit/s because of network congestion. 802.11n, however, reportedly can achieve speeds as high as 140 Mbit/s.

Wireless Speeds

Network Protocol Maximum Speed Average Speed Wireless Range
802.11a 54Mbps 27Mbps 12m indoors, 30m line-of-sight outdoors
802.11b 11Mbps 4.5Mbps 30m indoors, 120m line-of-sight outdoors
802.11g 54Mbps 7Mbps (in compatibility mode), 16Mbps (with other 802.11g devices) 30m indoors, 120m line-of-sight outdoors
NB: Some manufacturers have developed proprietary technology that can double the data rate of wireless devices. These are not IEEE 802.11 compliant and will only work at these speeds with other compatible proprietary devices.
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