Compatibility between 802.11b and 802.11g

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

From visiting an electronics shop, I found that PCMCIA cards for 802.11g
will also work if accessing a basestation that only implements 802.11b. I
did not assume that an 802.11g basestation would properly handle an
802.11b-only laptop that wanders into its coverage area. For this reason,
I declined to buy a used 802.11b card from a friend. However,
http://compnetworking.about.com/cs/wireless80211/a/aa80211standard.htm
shows that "802.11g access points will work with 802.11b wireless network
adapters and vice versa". So it seems that an 802.11b-only card will work
in an 802.11g coverage area. Is this right?

Fred
17 answers Last reply
More about compatibility
  1. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    "fred ma" <fma@doe.carleton.ca> wrote in message
    news:cr8fk9$4ji$1@driftwood.ccs.carleton.ca...
    > From visiting an electronics shop, I found that PCMCIA cards for 802.11g
    > will also work if accessing a basestation that only implements 802.11b. I
    > did not assume that an 802.11g basestation would properly handle an
    > 802.11b-only laptop that wanders into its coverage area. For this reason,
    > I declined to buy a used 802.11b card from a friend. However,
    > http://compnetworking.about.com/cs/wireless80211/a/aa80211standard.htm
    > shows that "802.11g access points will work with 802.11b wireless network
    > adapters and vice versa". So it seems that an 802.11b-only card will work
    > in an 802.11g coverage area. Is this right?
    >
    > Fred
    >
    Fred:

    Yes, an 802.11b card will work in an 802.11G wireless access point's area.
    The problem with that is everything will drop to 802.11b speeds. (At least
    as I understand it.) So, unless you want your speeds to drop to 11 Mbs, or
    less don't use a 802.11b card on a 802.11g network.
  2. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    Carl is right. But NOT viceversa.

    Many but not all 802.11g APs supports 802.11b.
    802.11g-only NICs cannot talk a 802.11b-only AP.

    Get a 3com 802.11a/g/b NIC and yer all covered!
  3. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    fred ma wrote:
    > From visiting an electronics shop, I found that PCMCIA cards for
    > 802.11g will also work if accessing a basestation that only
    > implements 802.11b. I did not assume that an 802.11g basestation
    > would properly handle an 802.11b-only laptop that wanders into its
    > coverage area. For this reason, I declined to buy a used 802.11b
    > card from a friend. However,
    > http://compnetworking.about.com/cs/wireless80211/a/aa80211standard.htm
    > shows that "802.11g access points will work with 802.11b wireless
    > network adapters and vice versa". So it seems that an 802.11b-only
    > card will work in an 802.11g coverage area. Is this right?
    > Fred

    No. an 802.11b card can't communicate with 802.11g. However, most if not all
    802.11g access points can run in 802.11b mode. So in effect, it would be an
    802.11b coverage area.

    It is up to the administrator of the access points as to whether or not the
    access point will operate in 802.11b. - They can be configured for 802.11b
    only, 802.11g only, or 802.11b+g (the latter being what you would hope for).
  4. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    I think your point is moot, both of my PC cards support both 802.11b
    and 802.11g. And my two wireless routers also support both 802.11b and
    802.11g. And some newer routers even maintain "g" speed for "g" NICs in
    mixed "b" and "g" networks.

    jimbo
  5. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    Carl Farrington wrote:
    > fred ma wrote:
    >>
    >>From visiting an electronics shop, I found that PCMCIA cards for
    >>802.11g will also work if accessing a basestation that only
    >>implements 802.11b. I did not assume that an 802.11g basestation
    >>would properly handle an 802.11b-only laptop that wanders into its
    >>coverage area. For this reason, I declined to buy a used 802.11b
    >>card from a friend. However,
    >>http://compnetworking.about.com/cs/wireless80211/a/aa80211standard.htm
    >>shows that "802.11g access points will work with 802.11b wireless
    >>network adapters and vice versa". So it seems that an 802.11b-only
    >>card will work in an 802.11g coverage area. Is this right?
    >
    > No. an 802.11b card can't communicate with 802.11g. However, most if not all
    > 802.11g access points can run in 802.11b mode. So in effect, it would be an
    > 802.11b coverage area.
    >
    > It is up to the administrator of the access points as to whether or not the
    > access point will operate in 802.11b. - They can be configured for 802.11b
    > only, 802.11g only, or 802.11b+g (the latter being what you would hope for).

    Hi, Carl,

    What I got from the above is that most access points have the ability to
    handle both, and that the administrator decides. This is good to hear,
    since I've also seen mentions on the web about access points that require a
    manual switch to select either one or the other (hopefully, that was just
    an early incarnation).

    I wonder if in practice, access points are generally configured to accept
    both? If they are in most places, does anyone have anecdotes about the
    effectiveness of such dual support? I found recent references to possible
    problems in dual supoort:

    http://www.wi-fiplanet.com/news/article.php/1577701

    Have these concerns blown over without the problems materializing, or are
    we're still waiting to see e.g. the issue of 802.11b getting deprived of
    bandwidth in the presence of an 801.11g user.

    Fred
  6. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    Rich Johnson wrote:
    >
    > Yes, an 802.11b card will work in an 802.11G wireless access point's area.
    > The problem with that is everything will drop to 802.11b speeds. (At least
    > as I understand it.) So, unless you want your speeds to drop to 11 Mbs, or
    > less don't use a 802.11b card on a 802.11g network.


    Thanks, Rich. According to Carl (same thread), most access points are
    capable of both, but need to be configured for dual support. In my
    response to him, I presented some further compatibility concerns. If
    you have a moment, I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts on them.

    Fred
  7. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    bobb wrote:
    > Carl is right. But NOT viceversa.

    Right is not Carl? ;)

    > Many but not all 802.11g APs supports 802.11b.
    > 802.11g-only NICs cannot talk a 802.11b-only AP.

    That's sort of how I interpretted his reply.

    > Get a 3com 802.11a/g/b NIC and yer all covered!

    I see web its for 3com cars supporting individual
    standards, but all 3? Why not just get an 802.11g
    card? Do you have experience with them? How do
    they compare the following cards (from a local
    Canadian retail outlet)

    Linksys Wireless-G
    ------------------
    WPC54G $90
    With SpeedBooster (upto 35% faster):
    WPC54GS
    $100

    D-Link AirPlus G
    ----------------
    $70

    Netgear WG511T
    --------------
    $100

    Netgear WG111 (USB 2, not a card!!)
    -----------------------------------
    $80

    Aside from safety (hand further from antenna) and cost, is there any benefit
    from going with USB? It seems to protrude more, making it easier to snap off
    and possibly damage the laptop.

    Fred
  8. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    fred ma wrote:
    > bobb wrote:
    > >
    > > Get a 3com 802.11a/g/b NIC and yer all covered!
    >
    > I see web its for 3com cars supporting individual
    > standards, but all 3? Why not just get an 802.11g
    > card? Do you have experience with them? How do
    > they compare the following cards (from a local
    > Canadian retail outlet)
    >
    > Linksys Wireless-G
    > ------------------
    > WPC54G $90
    > With SpeedBooster (upto 35% faster):
    > WPC54GS
    > $100
    >
    > D-Link AirPlus G
    > ----------------
    > $70
    >
    > Netgear WG511T
    > --------------
    > $100
    >
    > Netgear WG111 (USB 2, not a card!!)
    > -----------------------------------
    > $80
    >
    > Aside from safety (hand further from antenna) and cost, is there any benefit
    > from going with USB? It seems to protrude more, making it easier to snap off
    > and possibly damage the laptop.

    Uhm, I forgot to add, I'd be interested in your experience with the
    robustness of the software (I've lost weeks of time trying to get
    some peripheral drivers to work, and it only became so fiesty after
    I reformatted my drive as NTFS rather than FAT32!). As well as range,
    and support. Thanks...

    Fred
  9. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    fred ma wrote:
    >
    > ...I'd be interested in your experience with the robustness of the software
    > [of the various 802.11b/g cards] (I've lost weeks of time trying to get some
    > peripheral drivers to work, and it only became so fiesty after I reformatted
    > my drive as NTFS rather than FAT32!). As well as range, and support.

    Another factor that occurred to me is, if I really don't need the 54Mbps of
    802.11g, would sticking with a 802.11b card be more power efficient, or buy
    more range? I would imagine that there wouldn't be much power difference if
    the card minimizes circuit switching activity once your burst of data has been
    sent or received. Of course, the chips might be driven by a global clock
    signal, which would still run -- unless the extra design effort was expended on
    suspending much of the clock as well. I'm not sure how far industry practice
    has advanced along these lines, and whether or not 802.11b/g is amenable to
    that.

    Fred
  10. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    jimbo wrote:
    > I think your point is moot, both of my PC cards support both 802.11b
    > and 802.11g. And my two wireless routers also support both 802.11b and
    > 802.11g. And some newer routers even maintain "g" speed for "g" NICs in
    > mixed "b" and "g" networks.

    Jimbo, I'm not sure which point you're meaning when you say it's moot.
    I was debating purchasing a 802.11b card, and wondering how many
    access points outside the home would accept it (apparently, most). I
    also alluded to recently described problems when both 802.11b and 802.11g
    laptops are serviced by the same server. I also asked if anyone found
    any comparitive merits with USB versus PCMCIA adapters. Finally, I
    asked about the power efficiency of 802.11b cards if one did not need
    the speed of 802.11g. Any comments on these, I would greatly appreciate.
    I am guessing that you're saying that for home use, it shouldn't matter;
    if so, I can certainly see that (and thank you).
    Fred
  11. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    Yes; generally any 802.11b or g card will work with any 802.11b or g
    base station. They will work in the 802.11b mode unless BOTH are 802.11g.


    fred ma wrote:

    > From visiting an electronics shop, I found that PCMCIA cards for 802.11g
    > will also work if accessing a basestation that only implements 802.11b. I
    > did not assume that an 802.11g basestation would properly handle an
    > 802.11b-only laptop that wanders into its coverage area. For this reason,
    > I declined to buy a used 802.11b card from a friend. However,
    > http://compnetworking.about.com/cs/wireless80211/a/aa80211standard.htm
    > shows that "802.11g access points will work with 802.11b wireless network
    > adapters and vice versa". So it seems that an 802.11b-only card will work
    > in an 802.11g coverage area. Is this right?
    >
    > Fred
    >
  12. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    Sorry, my post was directed to bobb. But for your questions, I like the
    PCMCIA over USB. Just seems to make a little cleaner installation. I
    know nothing about relative cost or performance. And I think you are
    working the issue beyond any useful purpose by worrying about power
    efficiency. If you think 802.11b speed will satisfy your needs, no
    frequent large file transfers between computers on your network, then
    "b" devices can be found for very low prices these days. And there
    shouldn't be any problems with compatibility with "g" routers that you
    might want to use away from home.

    jimbo

    fred ma wrote:
    > jimbo wrote:
    > > I think your point is moot, both of my PC cards support both
    802.11b
    > > and 802.11g. And my two wireless routers also support both 802.11b
    and
    > > 802.11g. And some newer routers even maintain "g" speed for "g"
    NICs in
    > > mixed "b" and "g" networks.
    >
    > Jimbo, I'm not sure which point you're meaning when you say it's
    moot.
    > I was debating purchasing a 802.11b card, and wondering how many
    > access points outside the home would accept it (apparently, most). I
    > also alluded to recently described problems when both 802.11b and
    802.11g
    > laptops are serviced by the same server. I also asked if anyone
    found
    > any comparitive merits with USB versus PCMCIA adapters. Finally, I
    > asked about the power efficiency of 802.11b cards if one did not need
    > the speed of 802.11g. Any comments on these, I would greatly
    appreciate.
    > I am guessing that you're saying that for home use, it shouldn't
    matter;
    > if so, I can certainly see that (and thank you).
    > Fred
  13. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    Sorry, my post was directed to bobb. But for your questions, I like the
    PCMCIA over USB. Just seems to make a little cleaner installation. I
    know nothing about relative cost or performance. And I think you are
    working the issue beyond any useful purpose by worrying about power
    efficiency. If you think 802.11b speed will satisfy your needs, no
    frequent large file transfers between computers on your network, then
    "b" devices can be found for very low prices these days. And there
    shouldn't be any problems with compatibility with "g" routers that you
    might want to use away from home.

    jimbo

    fred ma wrote:
    > jimbo wrote:
    > > I think your point is moot, both of my PC cards support both
    802.11b
    > > and 802.11g. And my two wireless routers also support both 802.11b
    and
    > > 802.11g. And some newer routers even maintain "g" speed for "g"
    NICs in
    > > mixed "b" and "g" networks.
    >
    > Jimbo, I'm not sure which point you're meaning when you say it's
    moot.
    > I was debating purchasing a 802.11b card, and wondering how many
    > access points outside the home would accept it (apparently, most). I
    > also alluded to recently described problems when both 802.11b and
    802.11g
    > laptops are serviced by the same server. I also asked if anyone
    found
    > any comparitive merits with USB versus PCMCIA adapters. Finally, I
    > asked about the power efficiency of 802.11b cards if one did not need
    > the speed of 802.11g. Any comments on these, I would greatly
    appreciate.
    > I am guessing that you're saying that for home use, it shouldn't
    matter;
    > if so, I can certainly see that (and thank you).
    > Fred
  14. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    Sorry, my post was directed to bobb. But for your questions, I like the
    PCMCIA over USB. Just seems to make a little cleaner installation. I
    know nothing about relative cost or performance. And I think you are
    working the issue beyond any useful purpose by worrying about power
    efficiency. If you think 802.11b speed will satisfy your needs, no
    frequent large file transfers between computers on your network, then
    "b" devices can be found for very low prices these days. And there
    shouldn't be any problems with compatibility with "g" routers that you
    might want to use away from home.

    jimbo

    fred ma wrote:
    > jimbo wrote:
    > > I think your point is moot, both of my PC cards support both
    802.11b
    > > and 802.11g. And my two wireless routers also support both 802.11b
    and
    > > 802.11g. And some newer routers even maintain "g" speed for "g"
    NICs in
    > > mixed "b" and "g" networks.
    >
    > Jimbo, I'm not sure which point you're meaning when you say it's
    moot.
    > I was debating purchasing a 802.11b card, and wondering how many
    > access points outside the home would accept it (apparently, most). I
    > also alluded to recently described problems when both 802.11b and
    802.11g
    > laptops are serviced by the same server. I also asked if anyone
    found
    > any comparitive merits with USB versus PCMCIA adapters. Finally, I
    > asked about the power efficiency of 802.11b cards if one did not need
    > the speed of 802.11g. Any comments on these, I would greatly
    appreciate.
    > I am guessing that you're saying that for home use, it shouldn't
    matter;
    > if so, I can certainly see that (and thank you).
    > Fred
  15. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    Fred, you are over working this issue. If cost is a major concern, shop
    for 11.b stuff. Most of this stuff is going for very low cost. But, if
    you want longer range satisfaction, go with 11.g stuff. You are not
    talking about more than $30 - $50 difference for a router and two
    PCMCIA cards. Forget about the compatibility question, it just isn't a
    factor.

    jimbo

    fred ma wrote:
    > jimbo wrote:
    > > Sorry, my post was directed to bobb. But for your questions, I like
    the
    > > PCMCIA over USB. Just seems to make a little cleaner installation.
    I
    > > know nothing about relative cost or performance. And I think you
    are
    > > working the issue beyond any useful purpose by worrying about power
    > > efficiency. If you think 802.11b speed will satisfy your needs, no
    > > frequent large file transfers between computers on your network,
    then
    > > "b" devices can be found for very low prices these days. And there
    > > shouldn't be any problems with compatibility with "g" routers that
    you
    > > might want to use away from home.
    > >
    > > jimbo
    >
    >
    > Thanks for the anecdote, Jimbo. I assume that by not thinking of
    > power efficiency as important, you mean that they are comparable
    > for B & G cards (probably dependent as much on the manufacturer
    > as the standard).
    >
    > About compatibility, I did talk to a PC-oriented friend, who
    > exprienced "funny" behaviour when a B laptop talked to a G access
    > point. No trouble-shooting was done, since that wasn't the task
    > at hand, so it's not clear what that implies.
    >
    > Fred
  16. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    jimbo wrote:
    > Sorry, my post was directed to bobb. But for your questions, I like the
    > PCMCIA over USB. Just seems to make a little cleaner installation. I
    > know nothing about relative cost or performance. And I think you are
    > working the issue beyond any useful purpose by worrying about power
    > efficiency. If you think 802.11b speed will satisfy your needs, no
    > frequent large file transfers between computers on your network, then
    > "b" devices can be found for very low prices these days. And there
    > shouldn't be any problems with compatibility with "g" routers that you
    > might want to use away from home.
    >
    > jimbo


    Thanks for the anecdote, Jimbo. I assume that by not thinking of
    power efficiency as important, you mean that they are comparable
    for B & G cards (probably dependent as much on the manufacturer
    as the standard).

    About compatibility, I did talk to a PC-oriented friend, who
    exprienced "funny" behaviour when a B laptop talked to a G access
    point. No trouble-shooting was done, since that wasn't the task
    at hand, so it's not clear what that implies.

    Fred
  17. Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

    jimbo wrote:
    > Fred, you are over working this issue. If cost is a major concern, shop
    > for 11.b stuff. Most of this stuff is going for very low cost. But, if
    > you want longer range satisfaction, go with 11.g stuff. You are not
    > talking about more than $30 - $50 difference for a router and two
    > PCMCIA cards. Forget about the compatibility question, it just isn't a
    > factor.

    Jimbo, I appreciate the information you're providing, but if you're going
    to make the assessment that this issue is overworked (not sure exactly
    which one), it would be only fair if you say which issue, and why you do
    not think it a important. Is it compatibility? Support? Robustness of
    software? Range? Power? Physical susceptibility of damage? They seem
    like reasonable things to worry about for a newcomer to wireless LAN, for
    use with a laptop. It may well be that the compatibility is not a problem,
    but from your anecdote, you were referring to a home system with your own
    router, which is a different scenario. People have responded that it is
    not an issue for public access points, but it isn't clear whether that is
    theoretical, or based on broad experience. As well, information is
    available on the web about potential problems with compatibility. The one
    anecdote I know of from a friend seems to corroborate. So if I want to
    avoid trial-and-error purchases, I'll try to get information about those
    factors. It may be that I won't get answers to those questions, but why
    is a problem to pose them?

    Fred
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