The term Wi-Fi is synonymous with wireless networking. Why? Because Wi-Fi, short for “Wireless Fidelity,” is the name given to the radio signals that power wireless networks.
Just as there are different operating systems for computers, there are different “standards” of Wi-Fi. You’ll want to make sure to choose the one that’s right for you.
Which wireless is best for you?The standards may seem confusing at first, but the table below can help explain the differences and what each really means for your network.
|Wi-Fi Standard||Data Transfer Rate*||Frequency Band||Things to Know|
|802.11b||Up to 11 Mbps||2.4 GHz|
- The first Wi-Fi to hit the market
- Being replaced by newer standards
- Slowest, oldest
|802.11g||Up to 54 Mbps||2.4 GHz|
- Faster than 802.11b, but still completely compatible with it
- Some interference from devices such as microwaves, cordless phones
- Some interference from features of your home such as 2-story construction, fireplaces and concrete or plaster walls
|802.11a||Up to 54 Mbps||5 GHz|
- Mostly available in combination with 11g devices (802.11 g/a devices)
- Good for sharing DVD-quality video across your home network due to 5GHz frequency band and less chance of interference
|802.11n||Up to 300 Mbps||Both 2.4GHz & 5GHz|
- Based on an emerging new standard
- Backwards compatible with 802.11a,b and g
- Highest bandwidth for wireless
- Dual-band Draft 802.11n is the way to go for home theater enthusiasts who wish to transfer large files across the network
Add It OnOnce you set up your wireless network (or add wireless to your wired network) you can connect a wide variety of cool devices:
Many printers have wireless adapters built in that allow you to print directly from your wireless network enabled PCs. Or, you can simply attach a compatible wireless printer adapter to allow your existing printer to join the network.
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Network Video Cameras:
Set up a camera, and you can watch the action from virtually anywhere via the Internet.
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Wireless Digital Multimedia Receivers:
Connect your TV and stereo to your wireless network, and you can use them to listen to your digital music, play a slideshow of your favourite photos or even watch videos you’ve pulled off of the Internet.
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Want to Extend Your Network? Use Your Powerlines.
You may wonder what your powerlines — the wiring in your house that provides electricity to all your regular outlets — has to do with your home networking project.
Turns out, there is a nifty way to use your home’s existing electrical wiring to carry Ethernet signals. Powerline technology is most often used to extend an Ethernet connection from the room where the router is located to another room where a network connection is needed.
A powerline bridge consists of two adapters, one plugged into an outlet near your router, and one plugged into a power outlet in the location where you want network coverage.
Powerline adapter starter kits generally come in pairs because you need one at each end of the connection. But, once you’ve got an adapter attached to your router, you can add another powerline adapter to any plug in your house.
Powerline can be fast enough for many uses including streaming large files. If you want a powerline bridge for demanding applications like streaming or game play, make sure you get the latest powerline network products, which are labelled “HomePlug AV.” Some of these new products claim data transmission rates of up to 200Mbps1 and can deliver sufficient bandwidth for a single stream of HDTV.
Be careful to avoid older products on the market that are much slower. And, be aware that you can’t mix powerline technologies. Be sure to get powerline adapters of the same type and from the same manufacturer.
Also, know that your mileage may vary. Powerline network coverage and performance depends on many factors including the type of wiring in your home, the length of the wires, how the wires are attached to your service panel, and the types of electrical appliances that are in use. Powerline networking works better in some homes than others, and you might also find that some of your outlets work better than others.
One of the best things about extending your network with powerline technologies is that it is very easy to set up. Simply plug both adapters (you need at least two) into your wall outlets, one into your router, and then connect the Ethernet cables on each end to your devices and you’re good to go.
Want to know more? Get more detailed instructions.