Wireless networking is defined by the 802.11 standard. Earlier B and G revisions increased both speed and range. The N standard is the newest standard that is best-suited for high bandwidth activities like streaming audio and video. By overlaying multiple radio signals in a way that allows reflected signals to carry more data, 802.11n allows for Multiple-in Multiple-out (MIMO) data connections. Wireless N adapters use two different frequencies, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, to maximize potential data throughput.
Wireless N networks can offer throughput of up to 300 Mbps. Older wireless G networks support a slower 54 Mbps data rate. In most cases, the wireless N network's high data rate will not make streaming from the Internet faster. Internet speeds are generally limited more by your ISP connection than by the air interface to your router. However, if you have a home media server, wireless N will provide up to six times the speed of older G adapters. Speed will vary, however, depending on the number of devices you have on your wireless network and your distance from the wireless base station. The farther away from the base station, the slower the transfer speed will be.
According to Broadcom wireless, wireless N networks can support connections up to 300 feet from the wireless base station. Wireless G, the previous standard, had a 100 foot range. Like wireless G, wireless N connections further from the base station are often not at full speed. For example, Broadcom suggests that a connection at 300 feet is often limited to 70 Mbps. That speed, however, is still faster than the maximum throughput of the older wireless G standard.
Multiple Client Performance
Because of its multiple radio frequencies and its ability to carry data on reflected signals, multiple client performance of wireless N networks is better than in the older G standard. Performance degrades more slowly as more clients connect to the wireless network. This is due in part to the MIMO technology and to the increased data throughput that allows client requests to be completed more quickly than on older network standards.
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