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What is WiFi & Different IEEE 802.11 Wireless Standards

Wi-Fi is the term used to denote Wireless Local Area Networks which are using IEEE802.11 wireless standards. Now the term WiFi is representing all Wireless Local Area Networks. Wireless technologies used in WiFi are IEEE 802.11a, b, g, n, and ac. In this tutorial let us check what is WiFi and the major 802.11 standards. You can also see a list of WiFi devices which supports them. At the end of the tutorial, you can see a backward compatibility checker chart. Using this chart you can take decisions related to extending your WLAN networks. With the help of the chart, you can avoid situations of buying a device which is not compatible with existing devices (standards which are not backward compatible).

IEEE 802.11 Wireless Standards Available In Industry
  1. IEEE802.11a

  2. IEEE802.11b

  3. IEEE802.11g

  4. IEEE802.11n

  5. IEEE802.11ac
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Compatibility Between Different 802.11 Wireless Standards

Not all 802.11 technologies are backward compatible because of the different frequencies supported by different standards. So if you are planning to extend your current WLAN with new devices, you must make sure the new wireless devices you are going to buy are backward compatible with existing devices. So it is important to know the technologies supported by the existing equipment. Once you have noted down the technologies that are currently implemented, you may check which all 802.11 standards are compatible with them. You can see below a list of different WiFi standards which support each other. If you see 'Yes' in that chart, it shows the technologies those in the row and column are backward compatible. On the other hand, if you see 'No', it tells the standards listed ion row and column are not backward compatible.

WiFi StandardIEEE802.11a IEEE802.11b IEEE802.11g IEEE802.11n IEEE802.11ac
11aYes No No Yes Yes
11bNo Yes Yes Yes No
11gNo Yes Yes Yes No
11nYes Yes Yes Yes Yes
11acYes No No Yes Yes

Frequencies Supported

Frequency mode supported is the reason for the incompatibility between these IEEE technologies.

1. 11a ---5 GHz

2. 11b ---2.4 GHz

3. 11g ---2.4 GHz

4. 11n -- Supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz

5. 11ac -- Supports 5GHz

List Of 802.11 Wireless Devices
  1. Belkin F5D8233-4  N Router Supports IEEE802.11n

  2. D-Link  Router Which Supports Various WiFi Standards

  3. D-Link  Access Point DWL-G700AP

  4. Configure Adapter in AdHoc mode


About Author

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Alex George
Alex George has Engineering graduation in Computer Science and an MBA in Finance. He had been working as a senior Network Engineer for ten years. His specialization is in Cisco products. Traveling is one of his hobbies and visited various places as part of his onsite work. He visited different places as part of his onsite work like New York, Dubai, London, etc. Right now Alex is a director of one of the leading career development firms in India, which trains students for UPSC, SSC, and PSC examinations. He guides a lot of students to get selection for various prestigious institutions like CBI, Income Tax Department, etc. Alex George is a stock market investor and a very active intraday trader. Engineering Background: He has a B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering and passed different network and security courses like CCNA, CCNP (Security), CEH, and various Microsoft certifications. Finance Background: Alex has an MBA in Finance. He is an active intraday trader and a Share Market Investor. Webmaster Skills: Alex is a blogger since 2004. He has a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, and JavaScrip.