Sunday, October 7, 2007


IEEE 802.11 is a set of standards for wireless local area network (WLAN) computer communication, developed by the IEEE LAN/MAN Standards Committee (IEEE 802) in the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz public spectrum bands.
Although the terms 802.11 and Wi-Fi are often used interchangeably, the Wi-Fi Alliance uses the term "Wi-Fi" to define a slightly different set of overlapping standards. In some cases, market demand has led the Wi-Fi Alliance to begin certifying products before amendments to the 802.11 standard are complete
The 802.11a standard uses the same core protocol as the original standard, operates in 5 GHz band with a maximum raw data rate of 54 Mbit/s, which yields realistic net achievable throughput in the mid-20 Mbit/s.
Since the 2.4 GHz band is heavily used to the point of being crowded, using the 5 GHz band gives 802.11a a significant advantage. However, this high carrier frequency also brings a slight disadvantage: The effective overall range of 802.11a is slightly less than that of 802.11b/g; 802.11a signals cannot penetrate as far as those for 802.11b because they are absorbed more readily by walls and other solid objects in their path.
802.11b has a maximum raw data rate of 11 Mbit/s and uses the same media access method defined in the original standard. 802.11b products appeared on the market in early 2000, since 802.11b is a direct extension of the modulation technique defined in the original standard. The dramatic increase in throughput of 802.11b (compared to the original standard) along with simultaneous substantial price reductions led to the rapid acceptance of 802.11b as the definitive wireless LAN technology.
802.11b devices suffer interference from other products operating in the 2.4 GHz band. Devices operating in the 2.4 GHz range include: microwave ovens, Bluetooth devices, baby monitors and cordless telephones. Interference issues, and user density problems within the 2.4 GHz band have become a major concern and frustration for users.
In June 2003, a third modulation standard was ratified: 802.11g. This works in the 2.4 GHz band (like 802.11b) but operates at a maximum raw data rate of 54 Mbit/s, or about 19 Mbit/s net throughput. 802.11g hardware is fully backwards compatible with 802.11b hardware.
The then-proposed 802.11g standard was rapidly adopted by consumers starting in January 2003, well before ratification, due to the desire for higher speeds, and reductions in manufacturing costs. By summer 2003, most dual-band 802.11a/b products became dual-band/tri-mode, supporting a and b/g in a single mobile adapter card or access point. Details of making b and g work well together occupied much of the lingering technical process; in an 11g network, however, the presence of a legacy 802.11b participant will significantly reduce the speed of the overall 802.11g network.
802.11n is a proposed amendment which builds on the previous 802.11 standards by adding multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO). Though there are already many products on the market based on Draft 2.0 of this proposal, the amendment is not expected to be published until March 2009.

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