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Which Wireless Networking Technology is Right for You?

Which Wireless Networking Technology is Right for You?

(ARA)- With increased access to broadband and increasingly connectable audio, video, and gaming devices, more people are linking these devices using networks. According to the NPD Group, more than 34 percent of American homes have a network. And of those, 68 percent include wireless connectivity, according to The Diffusion Group.
Whether it's for sharing photos with family and friends or setting up the kids' computer to print in your home office, your networking needs can be easily satisfied with a wireless network; but how can you tell which one is best? What sort of questions should you ask? And how do you set up a network easily and quickly?
What Are My Options?
Browse your favorite e-tail site, or walk through any electronics store and you'll see numbers and letters that read like hieroglyphics; these represent standards. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) develops standards in order to assure products from different manufacturers work together. 802.11 is the designation for standards associated with wireless networking. Letters are appended for specific versions.
* 802.11b: The first wireless data standard, uses the 2.4 GHz frequency with a signaling rate of 11 Mbps.
* 802.11a: Uses the 5 GHz frequency, with a signaling rate of 54 Mbps. Mostly used in businesses and while faster than 802.11b, has a shorter range and is much more expensive.
* 802.11g: The latest wireless standard uses the 2.4 GHz frequency, with a signaling rate of 54 Mbps. The most widely used standard today for home and business.
* Accelerated 802.11g: Custom manufacturer enhancements of 802.11g with signaling rates greater than 54 Mbps. Compatible with 802.11b/g, but designed to work best with products from the same manufacturer.
* 802.11n: The next standard is expected to be announced by the end of 2006. Uses the 5GHz frequency and will deliver vastly improved speeds. Just how fast and how far this standard will operate is not yet known.
* MIMO: Sometimes referred to as "pre-n," MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) products are non-standard. They use multiple antennas and radios to increase signaling rate and the range of a wireless network.
Which Is Right For Me?
802.11b products, while extremely inexpensive, are much slower and typically less secure than alternatives. 802.11a products are primarily used in businesses and more expensive than even 802.11g solutions, which offer comparable or better performance, as well as compatibility with 802.11b. Products compliant with 802.11g are the most widely used and provide users with good coverage and speed. MIMO and pre-n systems, while fast, are expensive in comparison to 802.11g and in danger of becoming obsolete next year when the IEEE finalizes the 802.11n standard.
Accelerated 802.11g products are typically the perfect solution for home and small business networks. Fully compatible with 802.11b/g products, accelerated g products, such as Super G or Max G, provide increased speed while still operating within the 802.11g standard.
What's Super G Or Max G?
Using proprietary technology, some companies have found ways to make 802.11g networks operate faster. U.S. Robotics has launched an accelerated g product line called MAXg, which not only increases speed, but also extends the range of the wireless signal. The company reports 50 percent range improvement (up to 225 feet), and a signaling rate of up to 125 Mbps, more than doubling the speed and range found with standard 802.11g products. And at $59.99 for the Wireless MAXg Router, a better value is hard to find.
Ease And Security
Lastly, be sure to evaluate the ease with which your new wireless products are installed and that they support security. Things to look for:
* Support for WPA2 (at minimum WPA)
* An installation wizard for both product set-up and security
* Routers include an integrated SPI firewall
This will assure a smooth installation, and wireless and network security. To get more information about wireless networking and products, visit
Setting up a home network should not be difficult or time consuming. With a small amount of knowledge about how the systems work and what works together, you should be able to have every device in your home running smoothly in the course of an hour. Now, how many hours you spend using that network are up to you.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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