Wireless 101


Wireless 101: The current crop of wireless technologies is an alphabet soup of acronyms and technological jargon. To help sort out the confusion, use the chart below to compare some of the key wireless technologies used by computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices.

Purpose
Frequency
Range
Speed
Devices
Compatibility
802.11a
Wireless Internet access
5GHz
25 to 75 feet indoors; range can be affected by building materials
Up to 54Mbps
Laptop computers, PDAs, cell phones
Not compatible with 802.11b, 802.11g
802.11b (Wi-Fi)
Wireless Internet access
2.4GHz
Up to 150 feet indoors; range can be affected by building materials
Up to 11 Mbps
Laptop computers, PDAs, cell phones
Other 2.4GHz devices, like cordless phones, may disrupt connection
802.11g
Wireless Internet access
2.4GHz
Up to 150 feet indoors; range can be affected by building materials
Up to 54Mbps
Laptop computers
Other 2.4GHz devices, like cordless phones, may disrupt connection
Bluetooth








Wirelessly connect computer peripherals, such as printers, PDAs, cameras
2.4GHz
Up to 33 feet (10 meters); range can be affected by building materials
720Kbps
Printers, cameras, cell phones, PDAs, other peripherals
Other 2.4GHz devices, like cordless phones, may disrupt connection
GSM
(Global System for Mobile Communications)
Digital cellular telephone system; most-used system worldwide



900MHz, 1,800MHz, 1,900MHz
Determined by host network
Determined by host network
GSM-enabled cell phones, PDAs, pagers
Not compatible with CDMA, TDMA networks
3GSM
Third generation GSM network
1,920-1,980MHz and 2,110-2,170MHz
Determined by host network
2Mbps data rate
3GSM-enabled cell phones, PDAs, pagers
Not compatible with CDMA networks
GPRS
(General Packet Radio Service)
An interface overlaid on existing GSM networks to allow for Internet access
Determined by host network
Determined by host network
Theoretical maximum speed of 171Kbps; reality is 40-50Kbps
GPRS-enabled cellular phones and networks
Does not support CDMA networks
CDMA
(Code Division Multiple Access)









Digital telephone system used mainly by U.S. cellular networks
800MHz, 900MHz, 1,700MHz, 1,800MHz, 1,900MHz
Coverage area of host network
14.4Kbps data rate; a revised CDMA standard offers 64Kbps
Mobile phones on CDMA networks
Not compatible with GSM, TDMA networks
CDMA2000
Third generation CDMA-based network
Any existing band
Coverage area of host network
144Kbps; future speeds are estimated as high as 4.8Mbps
Mobile phones on CDMA2000 networks
Not compatible with GSM, TDMA networks
CDPD
(Cellular Digital Packet Data)
System used to transmit data over analog cellular networks
800MHz, 1,900MHz
Coverage area of host network
19.2Kbps data rate
Cellular phones, PDAs, pagers
N/A
TDMA
(Time Division Multiple Access)
Digital cellular telephone systems
800MHz, 1,900MHz
Coverage area of host network
64Kbps to 120Kbps data rates
TDMA cellular phones
Not compatible with GSM, CDMA networks




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