The lowdown on the wireless network

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What is it? The newest standard for wireless networking, approved in June, IEEE 802.11g operates on the 2.4-GHz frequency band at a speed of up to 54 Mbps.

What are its advantages? It is backwards-compatible with the popular 802.11b standard, which is used in most wireless networks and in public hot spots, and has a higher potential data throughput. It also has greater range than 802.11a.

What are its disadvantages? It has fewer active channels than 802.11a. The 2.4-GHz frequency band that 11b and 11g use is more vulnerable to interference than the 5-GHz band used by 11a.

Who needs it? The primary use at this point would be for small offices and home networks. Its functionality for outside communications is limited because Internet connections are likely to only be operating at a few hundred kilobits per second.

Price? Current prices for 11g equipment run about 20 percent to 40 percent higher than for 11a or 11b devices, though the gap will narrow over the next year.

Must-know info? Although both 11b and 11g devices can coexist on the same wireless LAN, when any device is using 11b, everything slows down to 11b's transmission rate of 11 Mbps.

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