WiFi is very common now for connecting computers and smart devices to the Internet. It’s wireless… no wires. Very convenient! If only we could charge all of our electronic devices without wires. (See cable clutter tips)

There are 2 different major WiFi frequencies available to the public: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Having the frequency in this GigaHertz (GHz) range allows the signal to carry a lot more data, hence faster than lower frequencies. In the early days, we used 900 MHz with much slower speeds.

 

WiFi implementations adhere to different standards, specifically 802.11 which now comes in a variety of flavours:

802.11a uses 5 GHz frequency and can transmit up to 54 Mbps (Megabits per second). It is fairly good at avoiding interference as well by using OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing).

802.11b is the slowest inexpensive solution. It is a 2.4 GHz frequency standard that was popular when cost was a concern but now everyone wants bigger-better-faster so it isn’t as popular. It is rated for 11 Mbps.

802.11g uses 2.4 GHz and can transmit at 54 Mbps. It uses ODFM like 802.11a

802.11n is currently the most popular and is backwards compatible. It can communicate up to four streams of data at 150 Mbps each using 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. Previous a/b/g could only use a single stream. Also even though it can communicate up to 4 streams doesn’t mean the wireless access point supports it.

802.11ac is the newest released in December 2012 and also backward compatible. It is still being worked on. This one is geared at 5 GHz and has up to 8 streams of data at 450 Mbps each. It has a number of nicknames already such as Gigabit WiFi, 5G WiFi, and VHT (very high throughput).

 

From a potential interference point of view and of possible interest to you, other devices that operate in the 2.4 GHz range for example are some cordless phones, Bluetooth, microwave ovens, and some baby monitors.

 

Realize that when more than one wireless device is “sharing” the airwaves, you are also sharing the bandwidth available. And the speeds listed above are theoretical maximums when in reality it is much slower.

Also just because you have the latest and greatest WiFi adapter/support on your device, doesn’t mean that the wireless access point you are communicating with supports your speeds.

And to top it off, we usually run into congestion further up the line (further upstream from you) when connecting to the Internet. Your downloads from some website are only going to be as fast as the slowest link in the chain.

Therefore there is a lot that comes into play when wanting to get the fastest possible downloads so you can watch those 1080p 3D movies and backup the bazillion megapixel images your latest camera takes.

In situations where you have a dual band wireless access point shouting out in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, I will use 5 GHz which tends to be less common and have more of the airwaves at my disposal. This assumes that your own device supports both.

Keep your eyes open for the new 802.11ac and 802.11ad which will hopefully support “ludicrous speed” (ref: Space Balls) as we can’t seem to download what we need fast enough. Part of the issues of being an instant gratification based impatient society. I want it yesterday.

 

 

95 Comments
  1. My Wi-Fi is so ever-changing. Sometimes it works flawlessly and runs fast like it’s supposed to, but other times it just goes out for no reason. At least with this internet provider it isn’t as bad as it used to be.

    • I have had a few wireless access points (AP) that seem to “degrade” with time. A trick I use is to put a Christmas light timer on it and have it power cycle the AP daily at 3am. This bandaid seems to work fairly well for unreliable hardware.

      • i actually tend to do the same thing, as tech could always use that reboot, and it dosnt affect me(normally cycles around 3am when everybody is asleep)

  2. Wow, I didn’t know this! I know my wifi is a bit meh, but at my friend’s house it’s awful. At school, though, the wifi zooms! Thanks for the bit of tech info on why there’s a difference!

  3. Thanks a lot. I’ve always wondered why sometimes I can pick up a wifi signal from quite far wheras at my cousins house I can’t go more than a few rooms down the house.

  4. This is neat! I have no idea what the 802.11 standard is, until now. No wonder my pocket wifi connection and speed is so unpredictable.

  5. This is a good insight. Have always been complaining about the unpredictable speed of our home’s wifi and why it has slower speed than the wifi connections in other areas. Now, I know better.

  6. I always thought it was just the devices that i use that determined the wifi connection. This is really helpful information and good to know. Information is power.

  7. Thanks for the insight. I used to deal with a dual-band wireless adapter a few years ago where I lived and wondered why I couldn’t pick u0p the other signals. The information on dual-band routers is quite useful, as well as the information on devices sharing wireless signal ranges. Thanks.

  8. Thanks for this. I’ve wondered frequently why some public WiFi networks seem to be so slow. Sometimes I can connect with my iPod touch, but it’s so slow it’s not even worth it.

  9. Thanks for the great information. Like janayc above our wifi is dependent on a lot of variables. It is supposed to be 4G but depending on the day, time or weather, it can change drastically from one minute to the next. It doesn’t really bother me but teens today want everything fast! Online games are dependent on your connection speed (at least this is what I have been told over and over again by my son). It seems Sundays are not good days to play online games in our house.

    • I’m not sure what you mean by 4G (as I thought that was external of a Wi-Fi connection), but certainly if it’s Wi-Fi, your scenario is believable, as that means it’s pretty much always a source of erratic behavior and subjective speeds. It is always good to read articles like this, as I classify as an online gamer, and I look for a reduction in internet delay wherever I can find it. It’s strange that your connection is subjective to specific days, maybe there’s some interference involved?

  10. Thanks for the detailed information. Is this something that is going to be brought into North America soon? I’m sure it’s already prevalent in countries like Japan. I think having a device connected will always be faster than a wireless connection.

    On another note, companies are coming out with wireless phone chargers!

    http://androidcommunity.com/nexus-4-wireless-charging-orb-lands-in-the-google-play-store-20130211/

    Super cool! I believe Starbucks in the states are already testing out counter tops which provide complimentary charging of laptops and mobile devices.

    • Fiber internet is crazy and Japan sounds like it will literally have a blast with the speeds planned for the country. Aside from speed, I like the stability provided by wired internet compared to wireless connections. And if you have an unstable wireless connection, it would only get worse if you have bad WiFi router settings or a faulty device.

  11. I had always seen the different wifi frequencies on my laptop but never really bothered with finding out anything about it. This was a very informative and easy to read post. Thanks!

  12. Thank you for the information!
    It was stunning to read-on about the potential impact of a WIFI card on network speed.
    I’ll always be aware of my wireless card each time I decide to upgrade my connection speed. Your article is appreciated.

  13. Thanks for the great informative post. My internet connection has been getting slow lately, and it and it may have something to do with my wifi. I will look into this, to see if it is the root of the problem.

  14. Nice breakdown , I was aware of baby monitors but not microwaves being on the same frequency, I have noticed a few times getting signal degradation for no obvious reason, now I’m wondering if it was when my wife was busy making popcorn or something!

    Thanks for the informative post.

  15. Wow, nice in-depth information. I always new that some wi-fi connections were slower and weaker than others, but I didn’t understand how or why. This definitely clears things up and makes it a lot easier to understand.

  16. This is a very simple explanation of Wifi, thanks for doing it. There are a lot of students of networking who need that type of explanation to start them on the path of understanding the differences in wifi. Keep up the good work.

  17. Great explanation of wifi =). I totally agree on the 5.0ghz being better because its not as common.

    I have a dual band n router on 1st floor and I live in a dense area. When I tried to connect using 2.4ghz on 2nd floor the speed is not that great, because there are tons of router signals using 2.4 near my area. When I switched to 5.0 its much better but still sometimes get disconnected, guessing 5.0ghz doesn’t go thought walls that well.

    Maybe I should try out ac wifi and see if it helps.

  18. This is a great and informative post on WiFi. Although I know my way around computers through backhand knowledge, WiFI might as well be alien technology to me. Right now I get speeds that are much less than advertised by my provider. I’ve tried calling and trying to get someone to talk about it with me, but usually it’s to no avail. If somehow I can get someone to come by and look at it, they usually just give me a new router and tell me that it should fix the problem.

    I think that the reason why I have slow speeds is because there are 12 or so other WiFi routers nearby (I live in an apartment complex) at least 12 others that I can detect with my computer. So that may be affecting my speed.

  19. There are devices that catch the wifi even at long distances.
    It is not just the WiFi router that does all the work.

    My Wifi works perfectly with me, even in remote parts of the source.

    • Yeah, that’s a fair point. It’s not just the wifi routers that do all the work. A fair amount of work is even done by the device catching the signal.

      However, it’s still the router which limits the speed of the wifi and the device has no say in it.

  20. My wifi usually works good, but sometimes it is stubborn. Every now and then, my router goes out and stops working. It turns back on by itself a few hours later. Of course, I do some advanced stuff like port forwarding and even DMZ, but I have a basic router.

  21. Even though you explain a lot about wifi here still why does it sometimes not work and nee d a modem restart and that is sometimes twice. It is really frustating.

  22. Awww. Thanks for breaking this down for us. It explains a lot. Lately, we seem to have an influx of wifi choices everywhere we go. Now I know what to look out for.

  23. This was a rather interesting read. Where I live (UK) we can only get 60kbps-90kbps due to living too far from the local exchange. We should be getting 250kbps like we used to but our telephone lines are very, very old, unreliable and noisy which is why we have a lot of downtimes and dropped speeds. You really can’t afford to use WiFi out here, you have to use ethernet just to get max of 90kbps on a lucky day.

    The ISP won’t have the lines redone because they say that they’re “functional” meaning they do give us internet access, they just rip us off to the max. I tried other ISP’s and it seems we’ll have to pay privately for engineers to redo the whole line but I’m not prepared to do that especially since it’d all come out of my pocket and everyone around here would benefit. I even pay for an unlimited 20 megabits per second package. Sucks to be me, right?

    • It must really stink to live in the UK. I still don’t really understand how WiFi works over there but from what I gather basically you don’t have a router in your house/apartment but have to use the “local exchange”?

      That’s really terrible, I can see how you have no choice in the matter.

      • It is a real pain, I must admit but it looks like things are gradually starting to get a little better here in the UK.

  24. Having traveled around the world, this post really clears up some questions I’ve had about WiFi. Great explanations in user friendly language, going to send this to my family members so they can hopefully understand what’s going on with the WiFi around them. You would think with the massive scale of internet usage across the planet there would be one common standard for WiFi networks.

  25. hmm. my wifi is to slow but know will try your nice advises. but here in our country service providers are slow and they always blame us.

  26. Definitely interesting to read about all the different ways wifi can be configured, which I’m sure contributes to how well (or not well) my connection works. Thanks for the information!

  27. Yeah, we are a mostly impatient society who would like things to be one for us and faster than the speed of light if possible. I don’t lack patience, so I won’t be hammering store doors to get the new 802.11ac and 802.11ad. I usually get something done while my WiFi is does his magic. That means I don’t even feel the time passing by.

  28. Thanks for such a helpful article. Next time I go shopping for a wireless router I now feel more prepared. Interesting how the N router will do both GHz but the newer one will only do the 5GHz. But like you said they are always looking for bigger and better ways for faster communication. I especially need the multichannel routers for my many devices that I run. I don’t want them all to eat up my bandwidth.

    I would like to see something that gets us more on par with Japanese bandwidths. But we are going to need a lot more infrastructure work done before that is going to happen.

  29. We have 802.11n and it’s decent. I have also used a China-made router which performed well and lasted for quite a long time. People with money can probably buy the 802.11ac but given how local internet providers are with their services (we have something called “unlimited internet”, but there’s a cap of 3 GB a day and the max speed I can download is at 1 mbps, a speed I rarely reach), it’s better to stick with the n routers for now.

  30. I have absolutely no idea how to find out what kind of WiFi we have here at home. I do not know whether it is a ,b, g or n. It couldn’t be ac because we had WiFi already here at home prior to December 2012. Anyway, ac and ad look promising. I might have to upgrade our connection within the year. I hope the upgrade comes with an ac or ad. Why is it 802.11 anyway? Does it mean anything?

    • 802.11 is a reference system for standards (not just wifi). It is by the IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. This standards organization defines the technology and 802.11 happens to be for the wifi industry.

    • If you still have the manual, it can indicate what kind of router you have. If not, you can check the router brand and model and just google it. It usually is stated what type it is, as I discovered when I was checking for new routers online.

  31. Our router is currently capable of 802.11n, as are most of my devices, so that’s great for me – I get pretty high speeds, and good reliability. The problem now is that my router is only capable of broadcasting on the 2.4 Ghz band, and I keep seeing a lot of devices that would ideally like to use both bands.

    As well as that, my new MacBook Air came with a 802.11ac chip, which I’m glad about not because it allows me to get higher speeds now – it doesn’t – but in the future, when Wi-Fi networks switch to ac, it won’t be another little reason to have to upgrade my MacBook!

    @tribie: 802.11 is the name for the protocol behind Wi-Fi – basically, “how it works”. I’m not sure there’s a reason behind the name, although David may be able to enlighten us!

  32. This just proves how much I don’t know about computers. I thought wi fi was one system…like a digital cord. I had no idea there were different types and that they could be configured. Articles like this one is the reason I keep coming back here. Keep up the good work and continue to keep us informed!

  33. So, if my internet drops off and seems to be much slower than usual, it can be from either my laptop wifi connection, the router, or the ISP? How do I determine which is the cause? I’m interested in figuring this out because we are paying for 15 Mbps, but when I’ve tested it before it’s come back WAY lower.

    • There are several ways to troubleshoot. It call comes down to process of elimination. If you want to eliminate your own wifi network as being the problem, you setup another device on your local network, and transfer files between the your laptop and that other device. Measure the speed. If it is greater than 15 Mbps, then it is likely the router or ISP. The next step would be to eliminate the router. This takes a bit of knowledge to setup, but you can disconnect your ISP and connect another device on the “outside” (wan port) of your router.

    • My problem’s usually with my ISP, but just to check it out, I just connect the modem directly to the PC then check the speeds. Well, there’s a chance it’s the modem itself but our modem’s from our ISP so basically the probable fixes would be the ISP’s responsibility.

  34. This is quite an informative article. i now understand better why my WiFi sometimes becomes unreliable. I never knew that that other devices like the microwave could interfere with WiFi performance. When i have the time i am going to try and figure out which of these standards is used in my home WiFi and my office WiFi so i can understand the reason for the difference in their performance.

  35. Great that you broke down the several protocol standards but there are a couple more that weren’t mentioned.
    * 802.11y is similar to 802.11g but uses the 3.7 GHz frequency rather than the usual 2.4 or 5 GHz range. It differs however in distance range: inside (of course depending on amount of walls and materials between the AP and the node) is can go up to about 50m (about 54 yards) and outside is even reaches a whopping 5 km (more than 3 miles)

    * 802.11p is a modified version of 802.11a that is currently being tested to be used as a standard for intra-vehicular communication

  36. Cool Spaceballs reference. I saw the french version the first time I saw that movie. It is one of the best translation I have ever heard. However, I prefer the jamming radar sequence.
    That article explains a lot of frustration we experienced because we shared our internet for the whole triplex… Note to self: Never again.

  37. Thanks for the information, I didn’t know that. Of course I knew that there are different types of connections but I wasn’t aware of it being that diverse.

    As you made this article about the different types of wifi connections, how about making one about wifi security?

  38. Proximity is also a very necessary factor to be considered. I found out that, at school where we use the relatively faster WiFi connectivity, I really don’t enjoy that much speed unless if I move closer to where they are located. Although, I think congestion is also a factor here.

    But, on the other hand, if we connect with one of my friends’ phone in our dorm room. We still enjoy five times the speed we have in the school main area.

  39. It just seems Wifi keeps changing so quickly it’s hard to keep track. I know of n but this new ac now? Didn’t even know it existed!

    I’ve been trying to stream videos to my PS3 using my wifi router and even bought a new 120mbps capable for it, but was surprised to see still it needed to buffer.

    Later I came to know the PS3 itself doesn’t support n and can only stream a max of 22mbps! What a shame!

    • Some WiFi can handle different settings. I’ve heard the PS3 can handle b and g router settings. If you have an n router, it could broadcast in mixed mode and that should work with the PS3. I’ve set up my devices such as the PSP or my NDS to our N WiFi router and it works okay.

  40. I thought that the electronics determined the speed of my Wi-Fi because of how well they could intake the information they get. I never knew that there are different types of Wi-Fi machines. I thought they just had more power in them so that they could send out more information out than other lower powered ones.

  41. I’ve always owned a 2.4GHz router and it seems like I’ll probably be needing a new 5GHz one. It seems like it doesn’t reach that far since in my room I struggle to keep a good connection to be watching videos. I heard you can have two routers for one WiFi location. Can you lead me in the direction to do such thing?

  42. Wow, I have no idea there were so many tyeps. I guess this explaines the differences in speed I expereince when I use my laptop at home, and in my appartement in my university town. I’ve never cared to check the access points. But even slower, I never had problems connecting with my Uni town one – up till these last months this is. it begun to disconnect me as it pleases and it’s starting to annoy me. So I should look further to this matter=

  43. This is a very informative post as I’m sure many people actualy don’t know the difference between Wi-Fi networks and assume that they all work the same. Even I learned a few things from this post.I will definitely be using this information from now on when it comes to my Wi-Fi.

  44. This is very helpful information. I didn’t know much about the differences between WiFi networks. I have 802.11g and its speeds can very quite a bit during the course of the day even though I am the only one using it. During peak hours — i.e. business hours on week days and afternoons on the weekend — it tends to be the slowest. This would seem to be an upstream issue, as I understand from your article.

    I get the best speeds in the early hours of the morning 4-9am and that’s when I try to get the majority of my work done. I prefer those quiet hours anyway.

    Moving the WiFi around helps sometimes, too. If it’s positioned near the window that makes a difference.

    • You make good points. I also find that I get the best Internet speed in the wee hours of the morning. It really lags between 5 and 10 at night. I have not tried to move my router / laptop around the house but I could give it a shot to increase the speed. That’s a good idea. Are you saying that I should move it toward the window or away from the window for optimal performance?

  45. This has opened a whole new dimension for me. For a computer savvy as myself, I have always questioned what all this meant, but never had the timeto research. At the same time, I believe this explains a lot. My 802.11b router has always functioned very slow and the WiFi range is very short as well. It clears many questions. I am planning on changing my router for something better. After reading this article and experiencing so many difficulties with the 802.11b routers I do not think routers are something to go cheap by.

  46. I always tell people about sharing Wifi with others. I have some pretty impatient people that won’t even wait a full minute for something to download. They just don’t understand the concept of a speed being shared by many devices. They just get frustrated and blame the internet for the “problem”

    • I feel similarly about downloading files etc. while on wifi. You might be better served to have wired connections in atmospheres where lots of downloading is conducted. Same with streaming movies and music. Those are situations where you don’t want to be sharing a wifi connection. I used to hop onto open wifi networks in my apartment complex years ago and attempt to download music etc. because I was too poor to pay for Internet and music. Gosh, it was slow. I ended up giving up after a few weeks of long waits for downloads.

  47. Thanks for this very informative post! I have always wondered why my wifi sometimes is so fast, yet sometimes it can become ultra slow. I can’t wait until the new bandwidths come out! Faster speeds can mean good things!

  48. I’d love to have it yesterday, but I’m happy to just get it sometime today. I remember the days of dial-up only downloads. I was so impressed when I could finally download 11-12 kb per second. I thought that was very fast! I was used to 3-4 kb per second.

  49. Gigabit WiFi? That’s a bit of a strange nickname as it doesn’t reach Gigabit speeds yet! Nonetheless, 450Mbit/s is very impressive too.

    My laptop doesn’t even support n-type WiFi… very noticeable on my 150Mbit/s connection!
    It can be both the router and computer at fault, so keep that in mind when upgrading your network connection.

  50. I thought WiFi was only one and it was just the 802.11. Guess I am pretty outdated when it comes to wifi knowledge. It is not cool when you don’t even know the theoretical maximum speed of your own WiFi. Well at least now I got to know all this stuff regarding WiFi , thank you

  51. Thanks! Sometimes I wonder, “How can my wi-fi be so slow right now? All I did was reset the router!” I guess the router hasn’t turned the 5 GHz on yet. Next time my friends complain about their wi-fi I will definitely let them know about this!

  52. I figured that the theoretical maximums were simply just that, and yet people go crazy over trying to get 25 Mbps + downloading speed. They end up getting less than they expected, and if they’re sharing it with family members or friends, that amount gets reduced even more.

    Of course, to have that much speed in transfer raises concerns on how fast the bandwidth can be utilized to its limits. It won’t be too surprising seeing people reach their bandwidth limit and being forced to upgrade to more expensive plans. Unless of course, companies provide more thresholds for this implementation for “ludicrous” speeds.

  53. I never paid attention to these information! Thanks for sharing these, now I know how to choose the right router. I’m moving into a new place soon so I’ll consider this.

  54. I didn’t know there are different type of Wifis, which it depends on how fast the speed. I do notice that when I used to have a contract with Centurylink, the Wifi connection was slightly slower than what my current internet provider because I had the cheapest internet plan and the slowest internet connection with Centurylink. Now, I have AT&T, and the Wifi connection is much faster. No wonder there’s a specific number after the Wifi frequency.

  55. Ok, now I’m happy. I finally understand. Not that I can quote all those numbers back, but thanks for the technical explanations. When I go somewhere, there is more than simply me competing with other devices’s signals. I always knew there was more going on there than that. Some places I can get online. Other’s I can only get e-mail, and it never seemed like there was that many other people using wi-fi right then at that time and place. Thanks.

  56. “I want it yesterday.” This really describes people nowadays. WiFi could be at its peak, and we still find ways to complain about the speed. Anyways, highly informing article. I need to upgrade my router because it definitely is not recent enough to be compatible with the new stuff coming.

  57. I love the info, but for some reason it makes me feel a bit power less. Yes we are an”I want it, and I want it NOW” society, thus the reasoning for awesome speeds yesterday. However if we could just know some how, which type of wireless 802.11a, vs 802.11b etc, then we could purchase the right adapters for all our devices as necessary.

  58. Well, I went to a college for admission. They had unlocked Wi-Fi and I tried connecting to it using my phone. It just won’t connect. The Wi-Fi strength was maximum, but it still won’t connect. I went to another college which also had Wi-Fi and that Wi-Fi was perfectly connected and I was able to browse very easily. Ironically, both the colleges were owned by the same chairman. And, at various places with open Wi-Fi, I was able to connect, but, any page just won’t load. Sometimes, it is awfully slow. Maybe it is related to something with the a, b, g, n, ac, etc. I’m however sure that my phone is fully compatible with almost anything, except ac.

  59. The Wifi in our house always fluctuates when an airplane passes over by. Does this really affect internet connection? It would also be great if internet speed restrictions are lifted in the United States.

  60. In our home we have set our wifi connection with a password in order to avoid other people from accessing it. During the time that we still don’t have wifi, we can detect other wifi signals from our neighbors and they didn’t have any password that’s why we were able to use the internet . The downside is, it’s too slow because I think most of our neighbors are using the same wifi signal haha.

  61. Well you say “as we can’t seem to download what we need fast enough”. You say we living in an “instant gratification” society, which is true, but honestly I don’t see what’s wrong with developing faster technology. This encourages hardware manufacturers to optimize what they produce, and software developers to push to get the most done per cycle of hardware. I can’t wait to see the effect 802.11ac has on home routing.

  62. I will have to look into the newer routers with faster speeds. I’m not sure why but my wireless seems slower as time goes on. It isn’t that old of a machine either. Resetting it only helps the problem temporarily. I’ve had technicians look at it but they couldn’t find a problem. I upload and transfer a lot of files from work and home so I need dependable fast speeds.

  63. Oh so that’s what it meant. I always wondered about those things and I never really realized what they’re for not since I read this post. Thanks a lot.

  64. So that explains it all. I thought I got ripped off with my Wi-fi considering that it doesn’t seem to be the speed that I paid for, maybe I should really look forward to replacing it and get my money’s worth from my ISP.

  65. My Wifi has a mind of its own. Sometimes it is fast and sometimes it is as slow as a snail. I honestly did not know this about Wifi. Thanks for the new information.

  66. I really don’t know a lot about WiFi, but thanks to this post I’m starting to understand why my internet speed is so slow lately! We have WiFi, we had no choice but downgrade, the providers said the downgrade would not be significant enough to really affect the speed of my internet (since it’s only me who uses it), but it really seems it did a bit. The speed seems to vary a lot now!

    Plus the signal is so weak if I am two rooms away from the router 🙁 No idea how to fix that or if it’s even possible to fix it.

    • If your signal strength is weak, there are many fixes to boost it. You could flash your router with DD-WRT and boost the signal strength of your router to full power if your router’s firmware doesn’t support it already. You can also upgrade the antenna from the stock one to a bigger one. You could also create a parabolic antenna for your router using a soda can.

  67. “I want it yesterday.” I’m the same way. My mom is always getting on my case about that. She says that’s the problem with my generation. I. in turn, say that’s what has allowed my generation to move forward so quickly.

    Fast internet connection is very important. I know when a site takes too long to load I lose interest and go somewhere else. And that of course means whatever I could have learned from that site, I didn’t.

  68. Thanks for the breakdown. Lots of useful information to consider here. And to think I naively thought that all WiFi was created equally!

  69. Wow, I’m completely guilty of being impatient when my Wifi is slow.
    Well, at least I know now how the speed of the Wifi works.
    I still wonder though, does this explain throttling? I’ve read up before that Comcast throttled users in order to get Netflix to cough up some unfair money.

  70. My internet is fast and reliable. My router is 802.11g and I love it. It has no antennas and the signal is spectactular. My router is in the basement and I am all the way upstairs so it has to travel a long ways. I can’t wait till 802.11ac is going to be released to the public.

  71. Very useful information.
    Being a resident of India, I have started counting when we will be getting the 802.11n and 802.11ac!

    It will indeed be a plus to have the bandwidth in western world due to ever increasing demand of bandwidth. Seriously, another advancement in the bandwidth using WiFi!

  72. Recently switched internet providers, as fiber optic is being offered in the suburbs where I live and the difference is staggering as to what was had previously. Most of my friends internet seems to be fairly fast, although not sure if the number of people connecting at one time but there can be major slowdown if using it for a day. Not sure if that would be the router attempting to stream data to multiple points at one time and having difficulty keeping up but at my house I’ve had 0 issues.

  73. I had no idea bandwidth could still be an issue when we pay for Unlimited Internet, but that could explain why it does not work so fast when we’re many users on our laptop, I guess. Our future plans involve moving away to a remote location. I wonder if we get to argue about the internet providers about these details, I’ve never yet had to deal with this stuff! I fear that the connections are in general a bit slow and pricey where I’m going… I’ll be making notes of your article to know what to expect.

  74. Wow! My wifi actually isn’t as great as I thought, lol!
    I’ve noticed that some places, especially public places such as McDonald’s, have wifi so slow that your phone’s 3/4G LTE runs faster.
    I wonder how fast those mobile hot-spots run..

  75. This article was helpful because I didn’t know it was that many frequencies. I thought that what ever phone you have and what area you use it, depends on how fast is could be. I still don’t know the different between 3G and 4G though. There really isn’t much to consider, since the frequencies control how fast the Wi-Fi is, not the phones.

  76. Now I know why my internet has been so slow since I moved. Thanks David! I can’t believe that my internet company would cheat me like this. At least they’re not comcast. (At&t)

  77. Interesting article. This is especially relevant to me since I am in the market for a new router. I’ll certainly keep this information in mind.

  78. This is a useful guide for those who are lost in all those terminologies of Wifi. Previously, I also did not know what is the difference between them. It was not until I experience a Internet problem, which led me to find out more about the different Wifi bands.

  79. It’s curious how we just use the internet and as you’ve said, getting annoyed because is not that fast as we wanted to be but most of us don’t really know the whole process behind it, so thank you so much for sharing.
    Also, I’m pretty curious to know how the internet will work in a couple of decades, that would be an interesting thing to see!

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