Four Wireless Signal Types

By Jedadiah Casey

Wireless networking is now considered a very common technology that is prevalent in many homes and offices. In addition to the wireless infrastructure technology, there are many different classes of devices that use this technology to connect and share data. In addition to computers, video game consoles, video devices, Blu-Ray players and smart phones use wireless technology that consists of four different popular signal types.


802.11b is the standard that was created in 1999 after the original 802.11 specification and is still in popular use in 2010. The 802.11b standard uses the 2.4GHz range and has wireless throughput speeds of up to 11 Mbps.


802.11a was also created in 1999, but it never gained as much popularity as 802.11b did, mostly due to the price involved in implementing the technology. 802.11a uses the 5GHz range and has wireless speeds up to 54 Mbps. The 802.11a standard, while faster, has a slightly lower coverage area when compared to 802.11b.


802.11g was created in 2003 and offers speeds up to 54 Mbps similar to 802.11a. The technology behind 802.11g is similar to 802.11a, only 802.11g uses the same 2.4GHz spectrum as 802.11b instead of the 5GHz spectrum. 802.11g offers coverage distances similar to 802.11b.


802.11n is the newest standard. Devices support the working draft versions of the 802.11n standard have been around for a few years, but the standard itself was finalized in 2009. 802.11n is capable of using both the 2.4 and 5GHz frequency ranges, depending on whether a 20MHz or 40MHz bandwidth setting is needed. 802.11n greatly expands the signal coverage area when compared to the previous standards. It also greatly increases the overall wireless signal speed with theoretical speeds up to 600Mbps. Common 802.11n products currently on the market advertise speeds up to 300Mbps.

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