802.11: In 1997, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created the first WLAN standard; 802.11 Unfortunately, 802.11 only supported a maximum network bandwidth of 2 Mbps, too slow for most applications. For this reason, ordinary 802.11 wireless products are no longer manufactured.
802.11b: IEEE expanded on the original 802.11 standard in July 1999, creating the 802.11b specification. 802.11b supports bandwidth up to 11 Mbps, comparable to traditional Ethernet.
802.11b uses the same unregulated radio signaling frequency (2.4 GHz) as the original 802.11 standard. Manufacturers often prefer using these frequencies to lower their production costs. Being unregulated, 802.11b gear can incur interference from microwave ovens, cordless phones, and other appliances using the same 2.4 GHz range. However, by installing 802.11b gear a reasonable distance from other appliances, interference can easily be avoided.
Pros of 802.11b – Lowest cost; signal range is good and not easily obstructed
Cons of 802.11b – Slowest maximum speed; home appliances may interfere on the unregulated frequency band
802.11a: While 802.11b was in development, IEEE created a second extension to the original 802.11 standard called 802.11a.
802.11b gained in popularity much faster than 802.11a so some people think that 802.11a was created after 802.11b. However, 802.11a was created at the same time. Due to its higher cost, 802.11a is usually found on business networks whereas 802.11b better serves the home market.
802.11a supports bandwidth up to 54 Mbps and signals in a regulated frequency spectrum around 5 GHz. This higher frequency compared to 802.11b shortens the range of 802.11a networks. The higher frequency also means 802.11a signals have more difficulty penetrating walls and other obstructions.
Because 802.11a and 802.11b utilize different frequencies, the two technologies are incompatible with each other. Some vendors offer hybrid 802.11a/b network gear, but these products merely implement the two standards side by side (each connected devices must use one or the other).
Pros of 802.11a – Fast maximum speed; regulated frequencies prevent signal interference from other devices.
Cons of 802.11a – Highest cost; shorter range signal that is more easily obstructed.
802.11g: In 2002 and 2003, WLAN products supporting a newer standard called 802.11g emerged on the market. 802.11g attempts to combine the best of both 802.11a and 802.11b.
802.11g supports bandwidth up to 54 Mbps, and it uses the 2.4 GHz frequency for greater range. 802.11g is backward compatible with 802.11b, meaning that 802.11g access points will work with 802.11b wireless network adapters and vice versa.
Pros of 802.11g – Fast maximum speed; signal range is good and not easily obstructed.
Cons of 802.11g – Costs more than 802.11b; appliances may interfere on the unregulated signal frequency.
802.11n: 802.11n was designed to improve on 802.11g in the amount of bandwidth supported by utilizing multiple wireless signals and antennas (called MIMO technology) instead of one.
Industry standards groups ratified 802.11n in 2009 with specifications providing for up to 300 Mbps of network bandwidth. 802.11n also offers somewhat better range over earlier Wi-Fi standards due to its increased signal intensity, and it is backward-compatible with 802.11b/g gear.
Pros of 802.11n – Fastest maximum speed and best signal range; more resistant to signal interference from outside sources.
Cons of 802.11n – Standard is not yet finalized; costs more than 802.11g; the use of multiple signals may greatly interfere with nearby 802.11b/g based networks.
802.11ac: The newest generation of Wi-Fi signaling in popular use, 802.11ac utilizes dual-band wireless technology, supporting simultaneous connections on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands. 802.11ac offers backward compatibility to 802.11b/g/n and bandwidth rated up to 1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band plus up to 450 Mbps on 2.4 GHz.
ECS is a Voice/Data Communications Contractor located in Seattle, WA & Portland, OR.
ECS provides local technicians for on-site work installing and servicing a variety of voice/data equipment, ie; Low Voltage Cabling, CAT5e/CAT6, Fiber Optic, IP Office Telephone Systems, Voicemail, Telephones, Firewalls, Ethernet Switches, Circuit Extensions, Wireless Networking, Video Surveillance, Point of Sale, Overhead Paging, Avaya Aura Servers, Gateways, etc.
ECS provides services in Washington & Oregon, primarily in the greater Seattle & Portland areas.