Backward Compatibility Check Of 802.11a/b/g with 802.11n

Today I received an email from one of my blog reader asking if Wireless G Router is backward compatible with wireless N Access Point. He is planning to purchase a new IEEE802.11n Access Point to expand his home network. Right now he is using IEEE802.11 G router but it is unable to transmit signals to his computers situated at different floor. He knows without using a range expander or AP, he cannot extend the signals to a different floor. From range expander and AP, he selects AP because of its extra benefits. He is attracted to the higher speed of n standard but it is costly compared to 802.11g AP. He is worried because even if he spends money to by 802.11n Access Point, will it work properly with devices in his network. Right now most of the devices in his network are 802.11g standard.

Wireless N is backward compatible with wireless G
802.11n is backward compatible with its predecessors. Wireless n works properly with 11a/b/g standards. Right now let us examine the g and n standards. Both IEEE standards work in the same frequency( 2.4GHz). However, there is a drawback. If you connect one n device with g device, the maximum speed of data transfer between them is 54Mbps because wireless g supports maximum 54Mbps data transfer speed. If you do not care the speed difference, you can use both technologies in a single network because both n and g standards are backward compatible. It is true for 11b standard too. However, IEEE802.11n standard operates in both 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands. If the 11n device operates in 5GHz band both 11g and b devices cannot work with it. In that scenario, you can say both 802.11g and standards are backward compatible because 11a works at 5GHz.

Practical difficulties between Wireless N and G
Though IEEE 802.11n and 802.11g are backward compatible, some practical difficulties are there.
  1. Wireless n supports MIMO but g, a and b don't.

  2. 11n can operate in 2.4GHz and 5 GHz but 802.11g and b support 2.4GHz only.

  3. The data transfer rate of IEEE802.11n standard is between 54Mbps to 600Mbps but the maximum data transfer rate of 11g is 54Mbps.

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