Common wireless networking standards

If you have read our previous article, you are now aware of the existence of the Wi-Fi standards. There are actually various types of such standards. This article will describe them in more details.


Even though the “a” is designated with this extension, chronologically, 802.11b came first. 802.11a standard is different from other 802.11-based standards to great degree.

First of all, it operates on 5-GHz frequency range. Meaning, all of the devices using this standard are less affected by any other interference from other devices using the same frequency range. 802.11a offers substantially great output than 802.11 and 802.11b with the speed up to 54 Mbps, but its true throughput is no more than 25 Mbps under a regular traffic conditions. Its theoretical range max out at 150 feet, the max range will be lower in a typical office like environment. Despite the supreme speed of 802.11a, it is not as widely adopted as other 802.11 versions.


802.11b came out first and the very first standard to launch off to the market and became the norm of the wireless networking. 802.11b standard totally supports data throughput up to 11mbps with true throughput of something around 4 Mbps and 6 Mbps on par with the older wired 10BaseT networks and a maximum range of 300 feet under ideal condition and environment.

In one of the typical office environments, maximum range is quite lower. The primary downside of using an 802.11b is that uses the most popular frequency, which is 2.4Ghz ISM band. Problem is that this band is already heavily crowded by other wireless devices like microwaves, garage door opener, baby monitors, wireless phone etc. With this, you are to run into great interference with other wireless devices.


This standard came out in 2003, improving over the 802.11a and b and pushing them into standard 802.11g. This great standard offers data transfer speeds almost equivalent of 802.11a, which is up to 54 Mbps, with the wider range of 300-foot of 802.11b. More importantly, 802.11g speed on the 2.4 GHz ISM band, which is backward compatible with any 802.11b. So, with this, the 802.11g WAP can serve both 802.11b and 802.11g wireless nodes.


This standard massive changes and improvements over Wi-Fi networking, including faster speeds and new antenna technology. Specification of 802.11n requires all, other than hand-held devices, to use multiple antennas to implement the feature called Multiple in/ Multiple out (MIMO), which enables all the devices to access the wireless simultaneously. This standard supports up to 4 antennas which allows all the devices to have great speed. Official standard supports throughput of up to 600Mbps even though practically this drops down to potentially 100+ Mbps at around 300+ feet.

Since cellular phones commonly support both cellular networks and 802.11x Wi-Fi networks, many of them can be used to fill up the gap. With the internal utilities or apps, you can easily setup your phone as Wi-Fi WAP which will act as the WAP which pass in and out from/to the internet via cellular connection. Generally, this method is commonly known as hotspot and using it to bridge to cellular network is known as tethering.

Many of these 802.11n WAPs have a technology called transmit beamforming, which is a multiple-technology that eliminates the problem with dead spots or at its very least, make the half dead and half alive. The antennas adjust the signal once the WAP successfully discovers a client and optimize the radio signal. This is incredibly useful!


This standard is an expansion of the 802.11n standard, which incorporates more streams and wider bandwidth and high speed. This standard also use like 802.11a, 5GHz band to eradicate the density issue caused in typical 2.4GHz. The most recent version of 802.11ac includes a modern version of MIMO called Multiuser MIMO (MU-MIMO). Any WAP that has MU-MIMO has the ability to broadcast to multiple users at the same time. This standard also supports dual-band operations like 802.11n. Some of the WAPs support tri-band operation with an additional 5-GHz signal to support. Which is enough to support more 5-GHz connections simultaneously with optimal speeds.

There other new standard already came in like the newest 802.11ax, which is the Wi-Fi 6. This information should give you the heads up for your next purchase.