IEEE 802.11 WiFi Standards Backward Compatibility Checker

WiFi is the term used to denote Wireless Local Area Networks using IEEE802.11 wireless standards. Now, the term WiFi represents all Wireless Local Area Networks.

Wireless technologies use the IEEE 802.11 a, b, g, n, and ac standards.

The first part of this tutorial checks the term WiFi and the major 802.11 standards. You can also see a list of WiFi devices that support them.

You will get a backward compatibility checker chart in the last part of this tutorial.

Using this chart, you can make decisions on extending your WLAN networks.

With the help of the chart, you can avoid buying a device with compatibility issues with existing devices (standards that are not backward compatible).

IEEE 802.11 Wireless Standards Available In Industry

  1. IEEE 802.11 A

  2. IEEE 802.11 B

  3. IEEE 802.11 G

  4. IEEE 802.11 N

  5. IEEE 802.11 AC

Compatibility Between Different 802.11 Wireless Standards

Not all 802.11 technologies are backward compatible because of the different frequencies supported. So, if you plan to extend your current WLAN with new devices, ensure the new devices are compatible with existing devices.

It is critical to know the technologies supported by the existing equipment.

Once you have noted down the technologies (that are in your network), you may check which 802.11 standards are compatible with them. You can see a list of different WiFi standards that support each other.

If you see 'Yes' in that chart, the technologies in the row and column are backward compatible. On the other hand, if you see 'No' in the chart, it tells you the standards listed in rows and columns 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 By Different WiFi Standards

You must be wondering why different wireless standards cannot connect. The frequency mode supported is the primary reason for the incompatibility between different IEEE 802.11 technologies.

Let us check the frequencies supported by IEEE 802.11 WiFi connections.

1. IEEE 802.11 a ---5 GHz

2. IEEE 802.11 b ---2.4 GHz

3. IEEE 802.11 g ---2.4 GHz

4. IEEE 802.11 n -- Supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz

5. IEEE 802.11 ac -- Supports 5GHz