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Wi-Fi
This is the most common Wireless LAN technology. It was designed as a wireless extension to Ethernet, and is used for all sorts of applications that can use a high bandwidth and a longer range with a slight power penalty. It also has a built-in roaming function that reduces hand-off delays. It has a range of 200 metres in the 2.4GHz range and a data throughput of 11-54 Mbit/s for IEEE 802.11b/g. The latest, yet currently unratified, version is IEEE 802.11ac. It isn’t due for final ratification until 2014.

“5G Wi-Fi, the 5th generation of Wi-Fi based on the IEEE 802.11ac standard, delivers the world’s fastest and most reliable wireless coverage for HD-quality video streaming and near instantaneous data synchronisation. Integrated in mobile phones like the HTC One, 5G Wi-Fi addresses today’s data-hungry needs of consumers who increasingly watch video on their mobile devices and/or have multiple wireless devices competing for connectivity,” explains Rahul Patel, vice president, wireless connectivity combos (wcc), mobile and wireless group, Broadcom Corporation.

“Wi-Fi (and even Bluetooth) tries to maximize throughput by selecting the most complex coding scheme that the link quality will support. It automatically switches to less complex coding schemes as the link quality declines, compromising data rate for maintaining link,” explains Prem Kumar Arora, product marketing manager, wireless, Cypress Semiconductor.

The best fit. Applications like factory automation, home connectivity and media transfer are easily supported by this technology. It has grown to be one of the most used technologies for accessing the Internet and thus has a high availability in consumer electronics.

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Now from other RF choices, 802.11 is the preferred choice due to its scientific application orientation. “This would not interfere with other medical devices and would be more redundant from protocol and security perspective. However, if the cost is going to be one more criterion for selection, that could possibly affect the decision,” explains T. Anand, MD, Knewron.

Alternatives.
1. Need lower power consumption? Classic Bluetooth provides lower data throughput for lower power requirements.
2. Looking for a bigger coverage area? You can check out WiMAX for a larger coverage area and higher data throughput.

WiMAX
The ability to provide a maximum speed of 70 Mbit/s or cover an area of up to 50 kilometres is what WiMAX provides. It can easily satisfy hundreds of equipment connecting to it and has adjustable channel sizes ranging from 1.25 MHz to 20 MHz. It is based on the IEEE 802.16 standards, and features a well-defined quality of service (QoS) framework.

The best fit. It is an excellent alternative to deliver content that has been conventionally delivered via cable or digital subscriber line (DSL). It can also be used to provide last mile services that would help to tackle the typical bottlenecks encountered with previous systems.

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