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At COMDEX, last November 2002, Jason and I got our first look at 802.11g, a new 802.11 protocol first being introduced by Linksys. Currently the two main 802.11 protocols being used are “a” and “b.” Is it worth considering upgrading or going first time wireless with “g?”

802.11b is widely used and operates at the 2.4 GHz range and transmission speeds of 11 Mbps (Mega-bits per second). While some manufacturers are operating at 22 Mbps, 11 Mbps is the standard.

802.11a operates at the 5GHz range with transmission speeds of 54 Mbps, which is five times faster than 802.11b.

802.11g operates at the same frequency as 802.11b (2.4GHz) and transmits at 54 Mbps, the same speed as 802.11a. It also will handle 802.11b transmissions, meaning it is downward compatible with 802.11b, thus “b” will become a subset of “g.”

Do you need the wireless 54 Mbps of either 802.11 “a” or “g” in your business or home? Well, if you are handling a lot of data between your wireless laptop (a popular mobile tool) — such as an architectural firm or a graphics design company — or synchronize your laptop with a server, it can be a real time saver with the 54 Mbps systems.

Since 802.11a operates at a higher frequency (5 GHz) it has less interference (techies call that “Contention”) with other wireless networks, cordless phones, microwaves, etc. It also has a shorter effective range because of the higher frequency.

If you are just surfing the Internet and think that you will get more speed out of a 802.11 “a” or “g,” you will not. Why? The fastest you will currently see now and in the reasonable future (about 3 years) is 1.4 Mbps. Most of you are getting, maybe, 0.5 – 0.7 Mbps on DSL or Cable Modem (Road Runner). As you can see, this is just a fraction of the capacity of the slowest wireless protocol, 802.11b at 11 Mbps.

So, if you are ready to go wireless, it would make sense to consider 802.11g, especially if you have a current 802.11b network. Me, I’ll stick with my 802.11b network until I have more vendor choices, which will probably take another year.

”’Alan H. Lam is the president of Quorum LLC and a regular contributor to HawaiiReporter.com. He can be reached via email at:”’ mailto:Quorum@theQuorum.net