802.11 is a set of Wireless Local Area Network standards developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). According to the IEEE Standards Association, the “IEEE 802.11 specifications are wireless standards that specify an ‘over-the-air’ interface between a wireless client and a base station or access point, as well as among wireless clients.” Basically, 802.11 is a set of rules designed to help wireless devices communicate with one another.

SPECIAL NOTE: It is important that all the devices you intend to connect to your wireless network operate on compatible versions of the 802.11 standard. A summary of each version and its compatibility is provided below.

  • 802.11a

    The 802.11a standard operates in 5 GHz band with a maximum raw data rate of 54 Mbit/s. The range of 802.11a wireless networking equipment is slightly less than that of 802.11b/g because the signals are easily absorbed by walls and other solid objects.

  • 802.11b

    The 802.11b standard operates in the 2.4 GHz band and has a maximum raw data rate of 11 Mbit/s. 802.11b devices suffer interference from other products (such as microwave ovens, Bluetooth devices and cordless telephones) that also operate in the 2.4 GHz band.

  • 802.11g

    The 802.11g standard operates in the 2.4 GHz band, like 802.11b, but operates at a maximum raw data rate of 54 Mbit/s. Devices based on the 802.11g standard are fully backward compatible with 802.11b hardware.

  • 802.11n

    The 802.11n standard operates in the 5 GHz and/or the 2.4 GHz band. Devices in the 802.11n standard include MIMO technology.

  • 802.11ac

    The 802.11ac standard is an extension of the 802.11n standard providing faster  speeds including Gigabit Ethernet capabilities. As with its predecessor, 802.11ac opearates on a 5 GHz band.