Owners of home and business networks looking to buy wireless gear face a variety of choices. The most commonly purchased wireless routers are:
- 802.11a Wireless A
- 802.11b Wireless B
- 802.11g Wireless G
- 802.11n Wireless N
The latest release is the 802.11n, or the “Wireless N” router. These routers offer greater speed and greater range, than previous routers. The increased range and speed performance is due to:
- faster microprocessors inside of the router, which allow the router to move the data around faster not only from the internet to the local networks, but also within the local network
- wireless N technology and newer antenna technology
- some models also have gigabit Ethernet ports to allow faster wired transmission speed too
- some models have dual bands, 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz too
Below is a brief summary of how the wireless routers began and how each has built upon the last to create a faster, stronger router for network users. By the end, I think you will be ready to upgrade your current router to the Wireless N.
The first WLAN in 1997 was named after the group formed to oversee its development.
- Supported bandwidth of just 2 Mbps
- Used 2.4HGz frequency
- No longer manufactured due to its slow speed and weak range
The follow-up to the 802.11 had a faster processing power than the original, but is significantly slower than newer routers. This is comparable to traditional Ethernet. The 2.4GHz frequency causes interference with many appliances, but controls are put in place to limit the interference as much as possible.
- Supports bandwidth of 11 Mbps
- Uses 2.4GHz frequency
- Possible interference, slow speed
Developed during the same time as the 802.11b, this router was manufactured mainly for business networks due to its faster speed and wider range. Because the 2.4 GHz band is heavily used to the point of being crowded, using the relatively unused 5 GHz band gave 802.11a a significant advantage over the 802.11b, but the 802.11a signals are absorbed more easily due to their smaller wavelength.
- Supports bandwidth of up to 54 Mbps
- Uses 5GHz frequency
- Less interference, but more signal absorption
In 2002 and 2003, the 802.11g emerged taking aspects of both the 802.11a and 802.11b. 802.11g is backwards compatible with 802.11b, meaning that 802.11g access points will work with 802.11b wireless network adapters and vice versa.
- Supports bandwidth up to 54 Mbps
- Uses 2.4GHz frequency
- Possible interference, but faster speeds
The newest router, the 802.11n, was designed to improve upon the 802.11g’s amount of bandwidth supported by utilizing multiple wireless signals and antennas (called MIMO technology) instead of one.
- Supports over 100Mbps, at times upwards of 300Mbps
- Uses 2.4GHz frequency and 5GHz frequency
As you can see, it is clear that the newest router, the 802.11n is the faster router with the greatest range and least interference.
A wireless N router’s top speed is 300Mbps. At 300 feet, the 802.11n operates at 100 percent of the 802.11g’s 150 feet. What this means is that you can get great speeds at further distances with the 802.11n. You no longer have to be tethered to one side of the house or office using your laptop or tablet when using the wireless N.
Contact your network administrator to upgrade your network to the wireless n router and you’ll see increases in productivity, which will allow you to be more efficient in your daily tasks.