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Wireless Home Networking — Choosing The Right One

By Lynn Chan

Are you suffering from a home wireless networking nightmare? There are so many options. 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g - what is all that? All you want is to get online on your notebook computer in your living room without tripping over wires.

First thing you should know is, all of them will get you online or network your computers together. The difference lies in speed, connection quality and more important today, security.

802.11a offers one of the fastest wireless home networking speeds because it runs on a much higher frequency that few other home electronics like phones and microwaves can interfere with. It can also accommodate more computers connected simultaneously - which is why more businesses use it since it's unlikely a typical wireless home networking setup requires so many connections. So this sounds like the perfect solution right?

Yes and no. The high frequency apparently is its worst feature as well. Many experts will tell you higher frequencies are easily absorbed and result in shorter ranges. It also means it's less able to overcome obstructions like walls.

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That's not all. 802.11a and 802.11b are two separate frequencies so if you have a notebook computer capable of connecting to only 802.11a networks, it won't work in a 802.11b setup and vice versa. But, this is probably one of your least worries because many wireless connectivity hardware today are capable of connecting to either one.

802.11b uses a lower frequency. So that expands the connection range but that also means it shares the airspace with other electronics and will likely experience much more interference. On top of that, experts advise that 802.11b networks are weaker when it comes to encryption and security. Also, as you expand your range, you're also more prone to people trying to crack into your network from further away and more concealed places. That's certainly an interesting point.

Finally, but definitely not lastly (there are many more 802.11 variations than presented here), is 802.11g. This is somewhat of a hybrid of the two earlier standards. First it uses the same frequency as 802.11b so, you get the benefit of a wider range. Secondly it's capable of much faster speeds like 802.11a. The third plus is it's also compatible with 802.11b networks. So you don't have to get new hardware to make connections with an older network or newer network (depending what you have currently). And, since it's a newer standard, encryption is also better, and that means you can better secure your home network.

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However, 802.11g wireless home networking hardware still costs more to set up than 802.11a but considering the many plusses it has going for it, this is at time of writing the best choice for your wireless home networking setup. Besides, there are plenty specials going on, prices are coming down rather rapidly for both routers and network cards.

About the Author:
Lynn Chan helps owners learn proper notebook care and use. Find out how to take care of your investment with her free e-course available here.

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