Wi-Fi Networking: Rated "G" for Everyone

By Craig Ellison  |  Posted 2004-05-18 Print this article Print

802.11g has taken the wireless world by storm. Here's a look at the latest "g" and "a/g" routers for the home and small office, all tested in PC Labs.

The past two years have seen explosive growth in wireless networking both in the business market and homes. In fact, more than 1 million U.S. households now have wireless networks, according to several market analyst firms. And as the technology has evolved, throughput has increased manyfold, while prices have dropped significantly. Wireless technology continues to be tweaked, and the promise of even faster, more secure wireless solutions is not so far away.

802.11g Takes the Lead

In the past year, 802.11g products have shaken up the retail shelves, promising faster throughput than those with the slower and older 802.11b technology. Demand for "g" products has grown so significantly that by the fourth quarter of 2003, sales outpaced those of 802.11b devices. As a result, prices for "b" products have dropped to the point where you can now buy a wireless "b" card and router bundle for as low as $60.

Click here to see what Intel is doing to push 802.11g in the market.
"G" products, which are interoperable with "b" products and operate in the same 2.4-GHz radio spectrum, have also easily surpassed sales of 802.11a products, which offer the same speeds as "g" products but are not compatible with either "b" or "g." But because "a" operates in the 5-GHz spectrum, it encounters less interference than do 802.11b and 802.11g products, whose spectrum is shared by common household electronics such as microwave ovens and cordless phones.

Sales of products that support all three standards have been increasing in corporate settings.

Click here to read the reviews from PC Magazine Check out eWEEKs Mobile & Wireless Center at http://wireless.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis.
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Craig Ellison is PC Magazine Labs' director of operations. The Labs staff, in consultation with PC industry experts, develops procedures and scripts for the independent and impartial testing underlying all PC Magazine reviews.

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