Differences between the Wireless Standards
The 802.11b standard is more common than Bluetooth. In fact, Windows
XP operating system supports many WLAN NIC cards by default. More
and more cards are supported under Linux, Windows CE, and Pocket PC.
Macintosh computers running either System 9 or OS X have their
own version of 802.11b, called “airport” cards. These cards are simple
802.11b cards that function in tandem with any wireless router or other
similarly equipped PC on a WLAN. There are a number of utilities (i.e.,
DAVE by Thursby Software) that make the Mac computer look just like
a Windows workstation on a generic wireless LAN. You can wirelessly
transfer files, surf the Internet, or log onto any number of wireless
domain servers in your corporate offices.
The maximum speed of 802.11b is 11 Mbps, but that speed is dependent
upon your proximity to the wireless router or transmitter. As you
increase your distance from the wireless transmitter your speed
decreases to as low as 2 Mbps at maximum distance.
There are several factors that control the range of your wireless
transmitter. When you are outdoors, you have better reception because
there aren’t any items that block your signal. Indoors, you have to contend
with building materials, shielding in the walls, and other equipment
that can generate electrical interference that can disrupt or corrupt
your wireless signal.
Bluetooth has a maximum speed of 2 Mbps and suffers the same limitations
in its radio frequency interference pattern as 802.11b. Bluetooth
is a competing standard that is currently being built into mobile phones,
PDAs, and network interface cards for PCs. This standard is supposed
to have more far-reaching implications as it is to be adopted in more
devices. However, because its maximum speed is lower than that of
802.11b (and other 802.11 standards) it does not have the same farreaching
implications for higher-speed wireless networks.
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