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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Wi-Fi® Wireless Networking by Harold Davis

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The Flavors of 802.11

This section briefly describes the variants of the 802.11 standard.

802.11b

Most Wi-Fi devices that are currently in operation are using the 802.11b flavor of 802.11 (although both 802.11a and 802.11g are up and coming).

The full 802.11b specification document is more than 500 pages long, but the most important things to know about 802.11b are that

  • 802.11b uses the 2.4GHz spectrum.

  • 802.11b has a theoretical throughput speed of 11 Megabytes per second (Mbps).

A speed of 11Mbps isn't bad (by comparison, a normal, wired Ethernet network only gets 10Mbps). However, for a variety of reasons Wi-Fi connections rarely achieve anything close to 11Mbps. You'll be lucky over an encrypted 802.11b connection to get transmission rates ...

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