802.11N Vs. G

Omkar Phatak Oct 28, 2018
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The 802.11n standard is superior to 802.11g in many respects. The differences between the two, have been outlined here.
When you go shopping for a wireless router or any other component of a WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network), one thing that you need to check out is the networking standard specification. That is because, the IEEE 802.11 standard defines the maximum attainable speed, range, and compatibility of the wireless devices.

Comparison Between the Two Standards

The IEEE 802.11 is a periodically updated set of standards that governs the communication over a WLAN, through the 2.4GHz, 3.6 GHz, and 5GHz radio frequencies.
When it comes to production of wireless communication devices like routers, it is essential that a set of universally accepted standards is defined, to establish uniformity between various wireless products, manufactured by different companies all over the world.
The first set of standards were defined in 1997 and since then, they have gone through a host of periodic amendments, as wireless networking technology has improved over time. The two most recent standards are 802.11g and 802.11n. Most of the latest wireless devices, designed for WLANs, are based on either of the two standards.

Frequency and Speed

The 802.11g standard, also known as IEEE 802.11g - 2003, is one of the most widely implemented network standards today. All devices, based on this standard, operate using the 2.4 GHz band of radio frequencies (with a bandwidth of 20 MHz). This frequency is same as the one used by the earlier 802.11b standard.
The maximum raw data transfer rate, at which devices under this standard operate, is 54 Mb/sec. However, the net throughput is around 19 Mb/sec only. All 802.11g based devices are backward compatible with the earlier 802.11b hardware. It uses a different modulation scheme at different data transfer rates.
For high data transfer rates, it uses the OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing) scheme. A major drawback of this standard is that it suffers from interference problems from devices like microwave ovens, baby monitors, cordless phones, and Bluetooth devices.
The 802.11n standard was designed to be an improvement over 802.11g. Devices based on this standards operate in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz range (with a bandwidth of 40 MHz). This standard offers a maximum raw data transfer rate, ranging from 54 Mb/sec to 600 Mbit/sec. Actually realized speeds range from 130 to 160 Mb/sec.
The doubling of bandwidth from 20 MHz to 40 MHz greatly increases the speed of data transfer. It has a MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) architecture, which is a smart antenna technology that significantly improves data transfer speeds.
It allows 4 MIMO streams. Devices based on 802.11n standard are backward compatible with earlier standards. However, to operate over the 5GHz frequency band, all communication devices must be based on 802.11n standard.


In terms of range, 802.11g based devices can have a maximum indoor range of 38 meters or 125 feet. Outdoor achievable range, under this standard, is 140 meters or 460 feet.
One point in this comparison, where 802.11n stands out, is the coverage range it offers. It offers a maximum range of 70 meters or 230 feet, indoors. The outdoor range extend to as much as 250 meters or 820 feet. The range is slightly lesser, when operating on the 5 GHz range but there is an advantage of having lesser interference from surrounding devices.
Opting for 802.11n would be certainly beneficial as it offers higher data transfer speeds, greater coverage range, and will also be compatible with future upgrades.
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