Understanding WLAN Terms and Standards As Seen On Wireless Gadgets


With fast-paced Information Technological advances in the present Information Age, every one seeks to be enlightened so as to be relevant and up-to-date. For instance, everyone wants to get the best out of their IT gadgets, and would want to know what features and functionality such gadgets can offer. Sometime ago, I overheard someone saying;

"What's all these Wireless LAN, WLAN, Wi-Fi, 802.11b / g / n stuff?"

"Why does my brand new laptop PC have this Wi-Fi logo and 802.11b / g written around it, while my friend's has 802.11b / g / n instead, and he calls it wireless-N What difference does that make?"

"In fact I need a faster browsing speed each time I want to browse the internet using any of these wireless cyber cafes."

These and many more questions are asked by people all around the world. However, the good news is that the answers to these and other related questions are interesting and would make one's Information Technology experience more enjoyable!


Wireless LAN, WLAN and Wi-Fi are all pointing to the same thing, ie accessing the Internet, another PC or mobile device such as a PDA via wireless, not with Bluetooth this time, but a similar and enhanced technology called WLAN. Wi-Fi is simply a sort of nickname for it. In fact, it was the name originally given to one of the earliest popular WLAN standards known as the IEEE 802.11b standard. However, it has become a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, which certifies WLAN products, assuring their interoperability. So the logo on your laptop PC or Smartphone simply means that your device is Wi-Fi enabled and can communicate with other devices.

WLAN Standards (IEEE 802.11a / b / g / n WLAN standards)

The 802.11b / g / n inscription as seen on Wi-Fi enabled devices represents different standards and technology of WLAN developed over time. The IEEE 802.11 committee has over the years developed a set of WLAN standards known as the 802.11 family of WLAN standards, starting with the 802.11, then to 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and the latest 802.11nwhich was rated in October 2009. The different standards offer varying data rates and encoding methods. Here is a summary of their features;

(a) 802.11 WLAN standard offers a data rate of 2Mbps and operates using the 2.4GHz frequency

(b) 802.11a supports up to 54Mbps @ 5.0GHz

(c) 802.11b; 11Mbps, 2.4GHz

(d) 802.11g; 54Mbps, 2.4GHz

(e) 802.11n being the latest standard offers up to 600Mbps @ 2.4 / 5.0GHz

Source by Ossy Tony