802.11g wins final approval

802.11g wins final approval

The Standards Board Review Committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers this week approved the 802.11g standard for wireless communication. An estimated 6 million users already have 802.11g devices on networks.

The theoretical top rate for 802.11g is 54 Mbps, compared with 11 Mbps for the earlier 802.11b standard, making possible demanding applications such as streaming videoconferences. There is an important disadvantage to 11g, however: Its signals don't travel quite as far as 802.11b signals. In GCN Lab tests, 11g products normally became ineffective around 60 feet to 80 feet from the access point in an office environment, whereas some 11b products could reach beyond 120 feet.

The IEEE required that 11g signals, traveling in the 2.45-GHz band with orthogonal frequency division multiplexing, must be compatible with 11b signals, which use complementary code keying modulation. Lab tests indicated that on mixed networks, the connection automatically reverts to the lower speed. So agencies that already use 11b networking can get the benefits of 11g only by setting up different speed zones that don't overlap, or by disabling 11b on certain clients. It would make little sense to upgrade to 11g and then hold it down to the speed of older devices.

IEEE officials said they now are looking toward a next-generation wireless standard, 802.11n, which theoretically could deliver 100 Mbps to 300 Mbps. Most users probably wouldn't notice a jump from 11g if 11n delivers 100 Mbps, but the higher rate could compete with Category 5 wired networks.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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