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Different Wi-Fi Protocols and Data Rates


Last Reviewed: 09-Jan-2017
Article ID: 000005725

IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi protocol summary

Protocol Frequency Signal Maximum data rate
Legacy 802.11 2.4 GHz FHSS or DSSS 2 Mbps
802.11a 5 GHz OFDM 54 Mbps
802.11b 2.4 GHz HR-DSSS 11 Mbps
802.11g 2.4 GHz OFDM 54 Mbps
802.11n 2.4 or 5 GHz OFDM 600 Mbps (theoretical)
802.11ac 5 GHz 256-QAM 1.3 Gbps
 

Legacy 802.11

  • Released in 1997
  • Two raw data rates of 1 and 2 Mbps
  • Frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) or direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS)
  • Three non-overlapping channels in industrial, scientific, medical (ISM) frequency band at 2.4 GHz
  • Originally defined carrier sense multiple access with collision avoidance (CSMA-CA)

802.11a

  • Released in 1999
  • Data rates with varying modulation types: 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48 and 54 Mbps
  • Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) with 52 subcarrier channels
  • 12 non-overlapping unlicensed national information infrastructure (UNII) channels in 5 GHz frequency band

802.11b

  • Released in 1999
  • Data rates with varying modulation types: 1, 2, 5.5 and 11 Mbps
  • High-rate direct-sequence spread spectrum (HR-DSSS)
  • Three non-overlapping channels in industrial, scientific, medical (ISM) frequency band at 2.4 GHz

802.11g

  • Released in 2003
  • Data rates with varying modulation types: 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48 and 54 Mbps; can revert to 1, 2, 5.5, and 11 Mbps using DSSS and CCK
  • Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) with 52 sub-carrier channels; backwards compatible with 802.11b using DSSS and CCK
  • Three non-overlapping channels in industrial, scientific, medical (ISM) frequency band at 2.4 GHz

802.11n

  • Data rates with varying modulation types: 1, 2, 5.5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps (see table below)
  • Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) using multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) and channel bonding (CB)
  • Three non-overlapping channels in industrial, scientific, medical (ISM) frequency band at 2.4 GHz
  • 12 non-overlapping unlicensed national information infrastructure (UNII) channels in 5 GHz frequency band with and without CB
Note We recommend channel bonding for the 5 GHz because there are a limited number of non-overlapping channels available in the 2.4 GHz band.
 
Mode Maximum rate (Mbps) Antenna transmit /
Receive arrangements
Legacy a/b/g with antenna
diversity and CB
121.5 1 Tx
1 Rx
2x2 20 MHz 130 2 Tx
2 Rx
2x3 20 MHz 144.44 2 Tx
3 Rx
2x2 40 MHz 270 2 Tx
2 Rx
2x3 40 MHz 300 2 Tx
3 Rx
3x3 20 MHz 405 3 Tx
3 Rx
3x3 40 MHz 450 3 Tx
3 Rx
 

802.11ac

  • Released in January 2014
  • Data rates varying modulation types; 200 Mbps, 400 Mbps, 433 Mbps, 600 Mbps, 867 Mbps, 1.3 Gbps, see table below
  • 24 non-overlapping unlicensed national information infrastructure (UNII) channels in
    5 GHz frequency band
Mode Maximum rate (Mbps) Antenna transmit/
Receive arrangements
1x1 40 MHz 200 Mbps 1 Tx
1 Rx
2x2 40 MHz 400 Mbps 2 Tx
2 Rx
3x3 40 MHz 600 Mbps 3 Tx
3 Rx
1x1 80 MHz 433 Mbps 1 Tx
1 Rx
2x2 80 MHz 866 Mbps 2 Tx
2 Rx
3x3 80 MHz 1300 Mbps 3 Tx
3 Rx

This article applies to: