How Fast Is 802.11g Wi-Fi Networking?

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Ever wonder how fast the 802.11g Wi-Fi Network is? The "speed" of a computer network is most commonly stated in terms of bandwidth. Network bandwidth, in units of Kbps / Mbps / Gbps, represents a standard measure of communication capacity (data rate) that is advertised on all computer networking equipment.

What About 108 Mbps 802.11g?

Some wireless home networking products based on 802.11g support 108 Mbps bandwidth.

So-called Xtreme G and Super G network routers and adapters are examples of these. However, such products use proprietary (non-standard) extensions to the 802.11g standard to achieve the higher performance. If an 108 Mbps product is connected to a standard 802.11g device, its performance will fall back to the normal 54 Mbps maximum.

Why Is My 802.11g Network Running Slower Than 54 Mbps?

Neither 54 Mbps or 108 Mbps numbers fully represents the true speed a person will experience on an 802.11g network. First, 54 Mbps represents a theoretical maximum only. It includes a significant overhead from network protocol data that Wi-Fi connections must exchange for security and reliability purposes. The actual useful data exchanged on 802.11g networks will always occur at lower rates than 54 Mbps.

Why Does My 802.11g Speed Keep Changing?

802.11g and other Wi-Fi network protocols include a feature called dynamic rate scaling.

If the wireless signal between two connected Wi-Fi devices is not strong enough, the connection cannot support a maximum speed of 54 Mbps. Instead, the Wi-Fi protocol reduces its maximum transmission speed to a lower number to maintain the connection.

It is fairly common for 802.11g connections to run at 36 Mbps, 24 Mbps, or even lower.

When dynamically set, these values become the new theoretical maximum speeds for that connection (which are also even lower in practice due to the Wi-Fi protocol overhead described above).