The Increase in the speed of internet connection

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WiFi transmission rates have increased rapidly since the conception of the IEEE 802.11 standard in 1997, from the original 1Mbps (megabit per second) to over 54Mbps today. In addition much greater speeds, of around 200Mbps, are on the horizon and are expected from the 802.11n standard currently in development. Much of this bandwidth gain can be attributed to the high level of research focus which has been concentrated on the 802.11 protocol, itself driven by WiFi's widespread success with consumers. Improvements in high-speed radio-frequency transmission understanding have enabled developers to continually build-upon previous concept to achieve more effective solutions to problems such as multi-path fading and error-detection and correction. In addition to the popular 'a','b' and 'g' standards, many other iterations of 802.11 have been proposed, each focusing on specific limitations to be addressed: however it is these main standards which provide the most useful improvements for consumers. The speed increases have been a driving force in increasing the attractiveness of WiFi for consumers: as the speed increases, and in-line with increasing bandwidth demands, many new applications for this technology have opened up. Consumers and hobbyists have developed WiFi community WANs/MANs which are capable of transmitting high-quality multimedia broadcasts, and business users have seen the possibility of using WiFi to replace their corporate LANs which have traditionally been limited to high-bandwidth wired installations.


  • Increasing attention of research on the 802.11 standard
  • Increased support by major industry leaders - e.g. Intel, Apple


  • Radio-frequency transmission difficulties to consider:
    • Multi-path fading
    • Signal to noise ratios
    • Interference - electromagnetic and physical
    • Usable transmission distance
  • Regulatory limits on radio channels available
  • Regulatory limits on power levels for transmission
  • Error detection and correction mechanisms reduce usable payload size
  • Security fears


Emerging paradigms associated with the emergence of IEEE 802.11x

  • Wi-Fi is the now standard name assosciated with 802.11x, and official WiFi Certification is now common
  • Hotspots (areas of WiFi coverage) have appeared throughout the world, often as a result of wireless communities
  • Wireless communities usually implement wide-area wireless networks to reduce cost/complexity in the 'last-mile'
  • Wardriving is the activity of searching for Hotspots i.e. travelling and picking up transmissions
  • Elektrosmog is being significantly contributed to by WiFi as it increases in popularity and as new standards employ multiple channels to increase speed



  • Original IEEE 802.11 standard established in 1997 - 1Mbit/s and 2Mbit/s
  • 802.11b amendment in 1999 - 11Mbit/s
  • 802.11a also amended in 1999 but only really available in 2001, after 802.11b - 54Mbit/s at 5GHz
  • 802.11g released in 2003 - 54Mbit/s at 2.4GHz
  • 802.11n expected in March 2009 - will probably deliver 248 Mbit/s
  • 802.11y 2008 54Mbit/s at 3.7Ghz

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