802.11: The Wireless Access Control Standard

Wi-Fi wireless Internet access has become widespread. All modern smart phones have Wi-Fi built in, making it possible to deliver low-cost wireless communications. Even we can’t think our life with out Wi-Fi. Moreover, our daily life evolves around it.

So what is Wi-Fi? The 802.11 standards are known as Wi-Fi. Now you may ask what is 802.11? The IEEE 820.11 is the creator of 802.11 standards.  Moreover, most of people have many queries on 802.11 as it is an unknown term for them. So, in this article, we’ll provide you all answers of your queries.

What Does 802.11 Mean in Wi-Fi?

IEEE 802.11 refers to the 802.11 standards, the backbone of WLANs. Wi-Fi connects local area network devices without cables. Within a WLAN's coverage region, you may roam freely.

The IEEE 802.11 standard is the blueprint for how Wi-Fi should be built or successfully installed Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi Alliance is the trade group responsible for regulating the distribution of items bearing this trademark.

Now you may ask what 802.11 standards are. The 802.11 family of standards includes only one standard and many updated versions. The current 802.11 specifications are:

  • 11a
  • 11b
  • 11g
  • 11n
  • 11ac
  • 11ax

So, if your Wi-Fi router or other wireless networking hardware specifies "802.11," it usually means it conforms to a particular version of that standard. For example, suppose your router might support 802.11a at high speeds over the 5GHz frequency band; however, your friend’s router may have 802.11b that provides up to 11Mbps transmission, which is much slower than you. So now you may understand 802.11 standard upgraded versions have different speeds, ranges, and other technical specifications.

Is 802.11 Still Used?

In 1997, IEEE 802.11 was the first publisher of Wi-Fi. From that year to now, the 2023 IEEE 802.11 released their upgraded version of the 802.11 standards. Indeed, 802.11 is still in common use today. It remains the primary set of standards for wireless local area networks (WLANs) and the basis of Wi-Fi technology.

So, which one is the latest member of 802.11 standards? The latest wireless networking standard is Wi-Fi6, often known as 802.11ax. 802.11ax is the fastest among all versions. It supports Wi-Fi versions 4 and 5 at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

Overall, the 802.11 family of standards has been crucial in easing the spread of wireless technology, linking devices to the internet, and fueling the current digital economy.

Is 802.11 the Same as Ethernet?

Ethernet is the most popular choice for LAN wiring. It has a standard definition according to IEEE 802.3. It's cheap to set up and simple to learn how to utilise. It often uses Bus Topology, while it is open to different architectures. The OSI model includes it in the Physical and Data Layers.

Ethernet has two categories; one is classic Ethernet and switched Ethernet.

However, 802.11 and Ethernet are different. Let's see the differences between Ethernet and 802.11

  • First, Ethernet uses an electric signal, but 802.11 transmits data using very energetic radio frequency waves. So, in WLAN, you don’t need to use any electric cable, but Ethernet requires a physical connection.
  • Next, the data transfer speed of Ethernet is faster than WLAN.
  • Ethernet provides a constant data transfer rate. So you can easily download large files or stream HD videos. Nevertheless, environmental variables block WiFi signals.
  • Ethernet is faster latency than WLAN.

Both positive and negative consequences accompany the development of each new technology. To get the best connection you need to consider the network's speed, range, and security.

Which is Faster, 802.11 b or g or n?

802.11b is the oldest of the three standards. It has a maximum data speed of 11 Mbps and runs at unregulated 2.4GHz.

Next is 802.11g has a maximum data speed of 54 Mbps, but it operates on the 2.4GHz. The latest version of the 802.11 standards came on the market in 2009. It operates in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz ranges. Not only that, but it employs MIMO  technology to boost both speed and range. Since it can operate on both frequencies, 802.11n is the most advanced variant.

What is the Best 802.11 Mode for 5 GHz?

As mentioned above, IEEE 802.11 always brings upgraded versions to the market. The latest 802.11 standards operate in the 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequency bands. So, the latest 802.11 mode is the best for 5GHz. However, you should ensure your devices, too, because sometimes, new 802.11 standards don’t support all devices.

Moreover, in May 2021, IEEE 802.11 brought a new 802.11ax to the market. It is also known as a Wi-Fi6. Wi-Fi 6E extends the protocol to the 6 GHz band, where it can use up to 14 more 80 MHz channels or seven more 160 MHz channels for uses like 4K video and VR. According to the Wi-Fi Association, 6E devices may improve network performance and support more Wi-Fi users in crowded and congested areas. It also includes systems integration, cloud services, videoconferencing, and 5G network acceleration.

If you still want to use 5GHz, you can use 802.11ac. Since it uses MIMO technology, it will support your data rates up to 3.46Gbps. You can also use 802.11n but that will be lower speed than 802.11ac.

It's also important to remember that the 802.11 modes will depend on the specifics of your wireless router or access point. Sometimes 802.11ac and 802.11n are supported by specific devices, or some may only be compatible with one device. Moreover, your wireless network's performance is also affected by range and interference in your network environment.


In the end, 802.11 is a technical specification for deploying Wi-Fi that is documented in IEEE Standard 802.11. The Wi-Fi Association regulates sales under this trademark. I hope after  you read it thoroughly, you will get all your answers about 802.11. You can select the latest one if you are still confused about your connection. You may have to upgrade your gadget for this purpose.