Here is a brief breakdown of the different 802.11 standards; including: speed, frequency, and the date it was ratified as a standard:
- 802.11: up to 2Mbps, uses the 2.4GHz frequency (Finalized: 1997)
- 802.11b: up to 11Mbps, uses the 2.4GHz frequency (Finalized: 7/1999)
- 802.11a: up to 54Mbps, uses the 5GHz frequency (Finalized: 7/1999)
- 802.11g: up to 54Mbps, uses the 2.4GHz frequency (Finalized: 6/2003)
- 802.11n: up to 150Mbps+, uses the 2.4Ghz and 5GHz frequency (Finalized: 10/2009)
- Utilizes MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output), uses multiple transmitters and receivers antennas to allow for increased data throughput.
- Some Wi-Fi cards and routers can support speeds of 300Mbps when utilizing a feature called 'channel bonding' (if its supported in the networking equipment) and not running into interference from other nearby wireless networks.
- 802.11ac: up to 866Mbps+, uses the 5GHz frequency (Still in draft)
For more information see the following Wikipedia article.
- All 802.11 Wi-Fi hotspots only can run as fast as the slowest device on the network. For example, if you have a 802.11n wireless network with 5 people communicating at 150Mbps. Then if someone brings 802.11b device on the network the Wireless Access Point will slow down to 11Mbps to support the slower device.
- 2.4GHz equipment can incur interference from microwave ovens, cordless phones, and other appliances using the same radio signal frequency range.
- The higher frequency 5GHz equipment signals has more difficulty penetrating walls and other obstructions.