Wireless networking standards are put in place to make sure that networking equipment manufacturers build networking products that are compatible with other devices so we can use different brands of equipment together without any headaches. Or at least not too many headaches! From time to time some new technology comes out that warrants a new standard because it offers new features that the current standard does not.
The 802.11n standard builds upon previous 802.11 standards by adding MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output). MIMO uses multiple transmitter and receiver antennas to allow for increased data throughput via spatial multiplexing and increased range. It is roughly 4 times that of 802.11a and g and offers 100 megabit per second (Mbps) throughput. Future 802.11n systems that incorporate additional spatial streams will deliver up to 600 Mbps with channel bonding.
The n standard offers increased coverage area (twice the range), higher throughput and better Quality of Service. In addition, 802.11n will support all major platforms, including consumer electronics, personal computing, and handheld platforms. Picture quality required by HD video can be achieved with 802.11n wireless networks.
802.11g standards use the 2.4 GHz (gigahertz) band. They will suffer interference from microwave ovens, Bluetooth devices, cordless telephones, baby and security monitors and other appliances using this band. The new standard is also backwards compatible with older a and g standards.
Check out our networking terminology section for more networking information.