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Wireless g (802.11g) came out in 2003 and operates in the same 2.4 GHz spectrum as wirelss b, but with a higher rated speed of 54 Mbit/s (around 20 Mbit/s real world). It is fully backward compatible with wireless b devices, however using mixed wireless g and wireless b devices will significantly reduce the overall speed of the wireless g network. Wireless g unfortunately also suffers from the crowded 2.4 GHz spectrum and is prone to interference issues in areas with other devices which operate in the same frequency. *Note: Super G wireless is a term that refers to a wireless device which uses to wireless g channels to achieve a rated speed of up to 108 Mbit/s, however these devices also have the potential to cause more interference.

Wireless n (802.11n) was released in its approved form in 2009, though many devices were sold before then as ‘pre-n’ devices. Wireless n has significantly higher potential data rates (up to 600 Mbit/s) and is backward compatible with previous wireless a, b, and g devices. Wireless N can operate on both the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz ranges, although it is quickest when operating in ‘pure’ wireless n mode at the 5 GHz mode (‘pure’ n mode being where there are only wireless n devices hooked into the network). Wireless n uses MIMO (technology which uses multiple antennas) to achieve greater data rates over greater distances. There are also now a number of Wireless n routers which offer multi-channel broadcasting which allows the router to actually have 2 wireless networks – one for legacy 2.4 GHz devices and one for 5 GHz devices.

So what does all this mean in a practical sense when trying to figure out what kind of equipment to get? While generally the older wireless b and g devices are cheaper by a few bucks, they are also much more prone to interference so it is recommended to go with wireless n devices whenever possible. Also, if you have an older laptop (or desktop) that is using a wireless b or g card, if you have a newer wireless n router, you might consider upgrading the wireless b and g devices with a wireless n card (you can easily install a wireless n usb dongle on either a laptop or desktop that is currently using wireless b or g, and then just disable the older device through your device manager). Be aware that wireless N devices come in many configurations and different speed ratings (some are rated at the a lower 150 Mbit/s while others are rated at 300 Mbit/s)

Pensacola Computers can help you with installation and offers full networking support for your wireless networks (wired networks as well). We can help with equipment advice as well as special network configurations for your home or business.

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