Difference between 802.11n, 802.11g and 802.11ac (5G)


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Published 1 Year Ago On Wednesday, May 3, 2023

802.11n is a Wi-Fi standard that was introduced by the IEEE in 2007 and officially published in 2009. It supports a longer range and higher wireless transfer rates than the previous standard, 802.11g.

802.11n devices support MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) data transfers, which can transmit multiple streams of data at once. This technology effectively doubles the range of a wireless device. Therefore, a wireless router that uses 802.11n may have twice the radius of coverage as an 802.11g router. This means a single 802.11n router may cover an entire household, whereas an 802.11g router might require additional routers to bridge the signal.

The previous 802.11g standard supported transfer rates of up to 54 Mbps. Devices that use 802.11n can transfer data over 100 Mbps. With an optimized configuration, the 802.11n standard can theoretically support transfer rates of up to 500 Mbps. That is five times faster than a standard 100Base-T wired Ethernet network.

So if your residence is not wired with an Ethernet network, it's not a big deal. Wireless technology can finally keep pace with the wired network. Of course, with the faster speeds and larger range that 802.11n provides, it is more important than ever to password protect your wireless network.

802.11ac (also called 5G Wi-Fi) is the fifth generation of Wi-Fi technology, standardized by the IEEE. It is an evolution of the previous standard, 802.11n, that provides greater bandwidth and more simultaneous spatial streams. This allows 802.11ac devices to support data transfer rates that are several times faster than those of 802.11n devices.

Unlike previous Wi-Fi standards, which operated at a 2.4 GHz frequency, 802.11ac operates exclusively on a 5 GHz frequency band. This prevents interference with common 2.4 GHz devices, such as cordless phones, baby monitors, and older wireless routers. Computers and mobile devices that support 802.11ac will benefit from the 5 GHz bandwidth, but older wireless devices can still communicate with an 802.11ac router at a slower speed.

The initial draft of the 802.11ac standard was approved in 2012, but 802.11ac hardware was not released until 2013. The initial 802.11ac standard (wave 1) supports a maximum data transfer rate of 1300 Mbps, or 1.3 Gbps, using 3 spatial streams. This is significantly faster than 802.11n's maximum speed of 450 Mbps. It also means 802.11ac is the first Wi-Fi standard that has the potential to be faster than Gigabit Ethernet. The second 802.11ac standard (wave 2) will support twice the bandwidth of wave 1 devices and offer data transfer rates of up to 3470 Mbps.

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