Introduction into wireless network standards

Just like any other industry, Wi-Fi also has a committee that decides various aspects of industry practice and set standards. These are extremely useful for the developers and vendors since this create an organised layout.

Almost all of the wireless networks use radio frequency (RF) technologies specifically the 802.11 (Wi-Fi) standards. There are other standards, such as infrared, Bluetooth and cellular phone is not as much  of a buzz as standard 802.11s, even though cellular connection accessing the internet is way more than WAPs connection. So let’s take a dip at some of the common standards being put in practice until now.

The IEEE 802.11 standard

The IEEE 802.11 wireless Ethernet standard is more commonly known as Wi-Fi which defines the methods the wireless devices should use to communicate through spread-spectrum radio waves.

Spread spectrum is basically the form of wireless communication where the frequency of the transmitted signal is intentionally varied. As a result, a greater bandwidth than the signal would have if the signal’s frequency were not varied. Spread-spectrum broadcast data in a small discrete chunks over the frequencies available within a certain frequency range.

Note that all of the Wi-Fi and other wireless communication technologies use the same frequency which are categorized under the industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands. Hence, all of the household electrical appliances may interfere with each other.

Radio bands

Every 802.1- based wireless technologies broadcast and receive on one of these two radio bands. The 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Any band is a range of frequencies which is usually divided into discrete slices of chunks called channels. Over the years, the original 802.11 standard is extended from 802.11 to 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n and 802.11ac.

These variations is then being used by every wireless networks. Each of these versions use one of the two radio bands we mentioned only exception is with 802.11n, which use one or may use both.

The newest wireless devices typically provide a backward compatible option to support the older wireless devices. In case, if anyone using an 802.11n WAP device, any of the 802.11g devices can use it as well. For an 802.11ac WAP is backward compatible with 802.11b, g as well as n. Only exception is 802.11a, which demands a 5GHz radio. Which means, 802.11ac and dual-band 802.11n WAPs are backward compatible with any 802.11a devices.