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Wireless Router Speeds Explained

Wireless Router Speeds Explained

Wireless routers are the central networking devices, around which a Wi-Fi network is built. The most important feature of these devices is the data transmission speed they offer.
Omkar Phatak
Buying any piece of wireless networking equipment needs a careful study of its basic features. When you have a plan to set up a high-speed network, what you need is a router, that can deliver high data transfer speeds. To choose the fastest one, you need to know what determines its transmission speed.
Every router is a transreceiver, that receives information from an ISP, through a modem, modulates the data onto a carrier wave and transmits it over the air waves. The security features that are enabled in a router provide restricted access to terminals which have a valid login name and password, to gain entry into the network.
Determinant Factors of Speed
The way data is modulated onto carrier radio waves and the share of frequency bandwidth used for the transmission of these waves, affects the data transmission speeds. The antenna technology used and the number of transmission antennas used in routers also affect their speeds. A combination of all these factors decide the actual throughput of the router. Dual-band routers, with modulation techniques that make a smarter use of the available frequency bandwidth, provide greater data transmission speeds. Wireless router technology has been evolving for more than two decades under the watchful eye of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The speed of a wireless router is essentially determined by the generation or standard of IEEE 802.11 wireless networking technology.
The Speeds Explained
To get an idea about what the maximum transmission speed offered by any router is, you need to know the networking standard on which the router is based. Through periodic modifications, four prime wireless networking standards have been released till date - 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n, each based on a slightly different set of features. Here is a table providing information about wireless networking standards, along with their associated maximum data transfer speeds.
Wireless Networking Standard Data Transmission Speed
802.11a Up to 54 Mb/sec
802.11b Up to 11 Mb/sec
802.11g Up to 54 Mb/sec
802.11n Up to 600 Mb/sec

As you can see in the table above, the highest data transmission speed is offered by the 802.11n wireless networking standard, released in 2009. With a combination of MIMO (multiple in multiple out) antenna technology and Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), this technology has broken the data transmission barrier, pushing the data transfer speed limit to 600 Mbps. Routers based on this standard are backward compatible with other devices, based on the standards released earlier.
Go for 802.11n standard based routers, which offer the highest transmission speeds. They can provide a theoretical maximum transmission speed of 600 Mbps. Dual band transmission, MIMO technology, along with OFDM make them the fastest routers till date.