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Wireless Networks

Wireless Networks have now been around for a decade. They have improved from the original 802.11b standard which offered a slow maximum throughput of 11Mbp/s to the latest 802.11n standard which now offers approximately 150Mb/s. The range of these networks have also increased dramatically offering a much greater coverage throughout the home and beyond.

The range of a Wireless Network will vary depending on the location of your Wireless router and your Wireless device. The range is effected by the number, thickness and type of walls and floors the signal has to travel through and also "noise" generated from other devices on that same 2.4Ghz signal.

The table below shows a comparison of the current Wi-fi protocols that are available to the home market. Of these, 802.11g or Wireless g will currently be the most commonplace.

Protocols Release date Operating frequency Typical throughput Maximum indoor range Maximum outdoor range
October 1999
2.4 GHz
~150 feet/45 meters
~300 feet/90 meters
June 2003
2.4 GHz
~22 Mbit/s
~150 feet/45 meters
~300 feet/90 meters
November 2009
5 GHz and/or 2.4 GHz
144 Mbit/s
~300 feet/91 meters
~600 feet/182 meters


It is possible to use all of these networks to stream multimedia but there will be limitations and it will depend on your own setup. Depending on the bitrate of the file you are streaming, all the network protocols shown above should be able to stream a ripped Standard Definition (SD) film but only 802.11g/n will be able to handle High Definition Video. If you are having problems with streaming HD content using Wireless g, then you may just have too much interference (walls, etc), you may be too far away from the router or the file may just have too high a bitrate to be able to stream over your network. This last reason may only be applicable if the HD content hasn't been re-encoded from it's original HD-DVD or Blu-ray format.

Setting up a Wireless Network

The drawbacks to a Wireless Network