What’s The Difference Between Wireless A, B, G, And N?

Gnomie Craighton Miller writes:

Dear Chris,

I am a die-hard fan of your show. Last weekend I went out to buy a new wireless router, and when I walked into the store I was overwhelmed by all the options: Wireless A, B, G, and N. I got so confused that I just left! After going home and doing my research, I have a better grasp on the differences between these types of wireless routers, so I thought I’d share this info with your readers in case they’re ever in the same situation.

Wireless A, first introduced in October of 1999, was the first wireless model available to the public. It had a maximum bit rate of 54 Mbit/s and could only go 100 feet before the signal was lost.

Also released in 1999 was Wireless B. This had a really slow bit rate at a maximum of 11 Mbit/s, but what you lost in speed you gained with distance and you could go about 150 feet.

After that came Wireless G. Like Wireless A, it had a maximum bit rate of 54 Mbit/s, but you could also get the distance of Wireless B’s 150 feet. Most modern (as of this writing) wireless households have Wireless G; it’s currently the most common type of wireless router throughout the world.

Wireless N is the relatively new kid on the block. This is next gen wireless and has a maximum bit rate of 74 Mbit/s and can go about 230 feet. It’s also said that Wireless N travels at a higher frequency and can go through solid objects faster. Instead of running on a 2.4 GHz network like Wireless A, B, and G, it travels on a 5 GHz network.

My computer is pretty new and I wanted Wireless N for the speed and range, but my computer wasn’t cut out for it. Then I figured out that many of the Wireless N devices (like the Belkin N Wireless Router) come with mixed wireless that delivers the fast speeds like Wireless N but are compatible with Wireless G.

Hope this is somewhat helpful!

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.