Get ready for Wi-Fast: 802.11a and 802.11g

Wi-Fi (a.k.a. 802.11b, a.k.a. AirPort) is mainstream. We know this because my mom recently asked me what “wardiving” was. I calmly explained that “wardiving” was a tragic occurance in which Slashdot readers die while looking for open wireless access points at the bottom of the ocean. The good news is that when they wash up on the beach, the gear is top notch.

Wi-Fi is about to shift into 2nd gear with 802.11a and 802.11g. Where today’s 802.11b supports data rates of up to 11 Mbps, 802.11a and 802.11g support data rates at up to 54 Mbps. 802.11g works in the same 2.4 GHz band used by 802.11b, which (as apartment dwellers are painfully aware) is polluted with interference from cordless phones, microwave ovens and (in the future) Bluetooth. 802.11a works in the UNII (Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure) band recently allocated by the FCC.

Although there are some products that support 802.11a — for example, Linksys has an 802.11a access point, and recently announced a dual-band 802.11b/802.11a access point — only now are low-cost wireless chipsets appearing that support 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g. This should enable compelling, affordable products by mainstream hardware manufacturers (including Apple and Microsofft) by this summer. Link