SOHO is an acronym
for Small Office Home Office, a term used to distinguish small businesses from
mid-sized and large businesses. Technically, SOHO businesses have
zero to ten employees, although many of them are one-person shops. (Ward, 2016)
SOHO users looking to implement a wireless
networking device face a variety of choices with many devices at different price
points available from the 802.11a, 802.11b/g/n, and 802.11ac wireless standards in
The 802.11 standard was established in
1997; it used the 2.4 GHz band and had a maximum data rate of 2 Mbps. The 802.11
standard was too slow for practical purposes and is no longer used, newer
standards were developed and we will focus on these standards that have everyday
use in today’s SOHO environment.
Established in 1999,
the 802.11b standard uses a 2.4 GHz frequency and is able to reach a maximum
speed of 11 Mbps, which was very comparable to traditional Ethernet speeds at
that time. In a SOHO environment an 802.11b access point can communicate
with devices up to 300 feet away. Speeds will decrease the further you are from
the device. By utilizing an unregulated frequency, 802.11b devices can expect
interference from microwave ovens or cordless phones. (http://etutorials.org)
The Pros of
802.11b are the low cost and a good signal
range that is not easily obstructed, the Cons of 802.11b are the Slower speeds and the interference
from home appliances on the unregulated frequency band.
Also established in
1999, the 802.11a standard is a high-speed and higher cost alternative to
802.11b, transmitting at 5 GHz and speeds of up to 54 Mbps. The move to
the 5-GHz band provides two important benefits over 802.11b. First, it
increases the maximum speed per channel from 11 Mbps to 54 Mbps. This increased
speed is especially useful for multimedia files, transferring data, and faster
Internet access. Second, the bandwidth available in the 5-GHz range is larger
than available at 2.4 GHz, allowing for more simultaneous users. However, the
802.11a’s higher frequency as compared to 802.11b shortens the range of 802.11a
networks. The higher frequency also means 802.11a signals have more difficulty
penetrating walls and other obstructions. (http://etutorials.org)
Because 802.11a and 802.11b utilize
different frequencies, the two technologies are incompatible with each other.
Established in 2003,
the 802.11g standard brings high-speed wireless to the 2.4-GHz band, while
maintaining backward compatibility with 802.11b. 802.11g supports
bandwidth up to 54 Mbps, while using the 2.4 GHz frequency for greater range. An 802.11g network card will work
with an 802.11b access point, and 802.11b cards will work with an 802.11g
access point. In both of these cases, the 802.11b component is the limiting
factor, so the maximum speed is 11 Mbps. To obtain the 54-Mbps speeds, both the
network cards and access point have to be 802.11g compliant.
Pros of 802.11g standard are the fast
maximum speed and increased signal range. The cons of 802.11g are
increased cost and interfere on the unregulated signal frequency.
Established in 2007, 802.11n uses multiple input / multiple output
technology improving distance, reliability and speed. 802.11n increases
transmission speeds to 450 Mbps and works in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
802.11n also offers somewhat better
range over earlier Wi-Fi standards due to its increased signal intensity, and
it is backward-compatibility with 802.11b/g devices. ([email protected],
Pros of 802.11n – Fastest maximum speed and best signal
range; more resistant to signal interference from outside sources.
Cons of 802.11n – Costs more than 802.11g; the use of multiple signals may greatly interfere with
nearby 802.11b/g networks.
The newest generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac utilizes dual-band wireless technology,
supporting simultaneous connections on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.
802.11ac offers backward compatibility to 802.11b/g/n and bandwidth rated up to
1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band plus up to 450 Mbps on 2.4 GHz. ([email protected],
The pros of 802.11ac are the higher
speeds and the less congested 5GHz band. 802.11ac is backwards compatible with 802.11b/g/n.
The cons of 802.11ac are the 5GHz
signals don’t travel as far and don’t penetrate walls as efficiently as
Before implementing a new Wi-Fi device
it is important to consider the surrounding
environment for possible interference. Microwaves, cordless phones and some
household appliances cause interference for devices using the unregulated 2.4
networks generally use the same form of radio signaling. For buildings that
share walls with each other, interference between different Wi-Fi networks is
Building construction is
another factor that effects Wi-Fi signals, concrete, with and without metal
reinforcement, is one of the worst building materials for wireless signals to
pass through, masonry block and bricks can also be serious barriers for Wi-Fi. Plywood
and drywall come close to zero signal loss in tests.
Wi-Fi access point location it is typically in the ceiling that benefits the users
the most. There are fewer obstructions to deal with when the signal is coming
from above and it provides the best direct path to the end user devices.