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Chapter 2. Wi-Fi on Your Notebook > 802.11 Wireless Standards

2.1. 802.11 Wireless Standards

The 802.11 wireless standard is a family of specifications for wireless technology. It was (and is still) developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). 802.11 specifies a client communicating over the air with another client (or through a base station). It comprises the following specifications:


802.11

This is the original specification for wireless networks. The 802.11 standard specifies a transmission rate of 1 or 2 Mbps, and it operates over the 2.4 GHz spectrum. It uses either a Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) or a Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) modulation scheme.


802.11b

802.11b is more popularly known as Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity). This is an extension of the original 802.11 specification. More significantly, 802.11b operates at a much higher data rate: 11 Mbps. However, it can also fall back to a slower rate of 5.5, 2, or 1 Mbps. 802.11b uses only DSSS. Like the original 802.11 standard, 802.11b operates in the 2.4 GHz spectrum. Most wireless networks deployed at the time of this writing are 802.11b networks.


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