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Some basics re 2.4 vs 5 ghz ; and G vs N

The various combinations of:
802.11g @ 2.4ghz
802.11g @ 5.0ghz
802.11n @ 2.4ghz
802.11n @ 5.0ghz

coupled with dual band and dual radio routers and cards, coupled with the lack of a final 802.11n standard, is giving me quite a headache , in trying to decide how to embrace the wireless domain!

Let me ask my most simplest question first:

I have
a) an older Dell laptop which came with an Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200BG 2.4GHZ mini-pci network card.

b) a Macbook, which is 802.11n and 802.11a/b/g compatible, and which I assume is 2.4GHZ

c) a fully wired network at home with no wireless capability.


1) On both laptops, wireless connections work well at various hotspots such as airport (and unsecured neighbours!) . If I were to change the Dell card to an 801.11n 5 GHZ card, would I lose the ability to connect to those hotspots? I assume yes, ie even if 801.11n cards are backward compatable to 11g, a 5Ghz card would not see a 2.4GHZ router...correct?? I would need to get a "dual" card, correct?

2) Reverse question. If I were to purchase a new 801.11n 5 GHZ router for my home (I have no wireless now) , would either of my 2.4GHZ laptops recognize it? Again I assume no, unless again I puchased a "dual" router. I often have visitors at the house who bring their laptops, so between that, and my own laptops, I guess dual dand / dual radio is a necesasy consideration, correct?

Many thanks

Beware Lectroids from PlanetX
Cloverdale, VA
I don't think there is 802.11g available @ 5Ghz, only 'n'.

I have a new apple airport extreme base station, it has backwards compatibility mode so it can talk all 2.4ghz wirless cards b,g, and n. You can also lock out one of the configurations so its only b, g, or n at 2.4ghz or only 5ghz n.

Since I had a B router then upgraded to a G router , then recently got the airport for n compatibility, I locked each router into its own version, thus my two linky's were b and g only, and my APE basestation to 5ghz N only.

After retiring my last PC and the related b airport cards since they only supported WEP, I only have two routers. The drawback for being backwards compatible, you lose the higher speed capability of an N only 5ghz wirless network. since I have a family of N compatible iMac's and laptops and a couple g only Mac's, they communicate to their respective routers, so I can run N at full speed.

I'd recommend reading up on the APE :

»www.apple.com/airportextreme/spe ··· ecs.html

for an idea of its operation. But it will communicate to both your laptops with no problems at all in compatibility mode. Since you have a macbook already it makes short work of configuring the APE.
"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are!!"

Aptos, CA
reply to Mediaman
5ghz is just for A and N

N also runs at 2.4ghz.

Most (all?) N cards will also work with G.

Most (all?) N routers accept G clients (sometimes degrading speeds for the N clients also attached in "mixed mode")

For your home, getting a G router vs an N router (single band) is likely a reasonable choice. You should only get an N router for some reason (better speed, or better range, or both) - and choosing a dual-band N router and cards is a fairly expensive endeavor, the only reason to do it is to gain better speeds over single band N or G.

Recap: go cheap - buy a $20-$40 G router, set it up with WPA, and get your feet wet. See if you need the higher speed/better range before you bother with the expense.

(Note - I actually run three wireless networks in my home - one G, one N, and one open G for freeloaders - the N is needed for streaming HD video, and is just a single-band 2.4 ghz N)
My place : »www.schettino.us



1 edit
Right. I am concluding the same thing (in buying a cheap G router/access point), ie my options are:

1) buy a 2.4 GHZ G router - Dell will work; MAC will work but sub-optimal. Good for all visitors. OK for hot spots.

2) buy a 2.4 GHZ N router - Dell will (router supports G) MAC will work optimally. Good for all visitors. OK for hot spots

3) buy a 5.0 GHZ N router - neither Dell or MAC will work (unless I also upgrade cards), Not good for most visitors. Might not work in some hotpots with 5 GHZ card.

4) buy a Dual Band N router - Dell will work @ 2.4 G ; MAC will work optimally. Good for all visitors. OK for hot spots. VERy EXPENSIVE OPTION.

As well, (2) and (3) and (4) require buying based on a draft standard. So its really (1) or wait...unless (2) is cheap!

·Time Warner Cable
reply to BuckarooB
said by BuckarooB:

I don't think there is 802.11g available @ 5Ghz, only 'n'.
11a is the g of 5.0hz


reply to Mediaman
Re (1) and (2), I found 2 reasonable routers for $49 CDN, both are N (as the cheap G routers were not that much cheaper or got real bad reviews):

a) D-Link Wireless N Router (DIR-615)
b) Belkin Wireless N Router (F5D8233TT4)

Any comments/cautions on the above?