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Chapter 3. Wireless Considerations > 802.11a, 802.11b, or 802.11g?

802.11a, 802.11b, or 802.11g?

Most of the information here holds true for the newer, faster Wi-Fi5 (802.11a) equipment as well. However, while 802.11a offers faster maximum speed than 802.11b (54 megabits per second rather than 11), 802.11a equipment has a shorter range, about 60 feet.

The shorter range of 802.11a means you'll need to purchase more access points than you would with an 802.11b network. That's a significant concern, considering 802.11a equipment is a newer technology, and more pricey than older 802.11b hardware (see Table 3.1). That price difference won't mean much to companies that need the fastest wireless networking equipment available, but it will likely keep most home users buying 802.11b equipment.

Table 3.1. Features of 802.11b, 802.11a, and 802.11g
 Top SpeedApproximate RangeProsCons
802.11b11 mbps150 feetGood for simple Internet, file, and printer sharingLess speedy than 802.11a or 802.11g
802.11a54 mbps60 feetBand means less interference from cordless phones and Bluetooth devices that use the 2.4GHz bandMore expensive than 802.11b hardware
802.11g54 mbpsAbout 10 percent less than 802.11bFast & compatible with widely adopted 802.11bNewer technology is always more expensive. Can suffer from electronic devices that use the 2.4 GHz band, such as cell phones


Most home users will benefit from the relatively low cost of 802.11b wireless networking hardware, and its speed should suffice for home Web surfing, file sharing, and printing. Office users who need to connect laptops for roaming around the office might be more interested in 802.11a or 802.11g equipment for its speed in copying large files, such as databases, photographic images, and video files.

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