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Definition: 802.11a is a Wi-Fi wireless network communication standard. It is one of the IEEE standards in the 802.11 series.

802.11a Performance

An 802.11a wireless network supports a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 54 Mbps, a noticeable advantage over 802.11b Wi-Fi that supports 11 Mbps and on par with 802.11g performance. However, 802.11a installations historically were limited to corporate environments due to comparatively higher hardware equipment costs.

802.11a and Wireless Interference

802.11a transmits radio signals in the frequency range above 5 GHz, a part of wireless spectrum regulated in many countries. This regulation means 802.11a gear generally avoids signal interference from other consumer wireless products like cordless phones. In contrast, 802.11b/g utilizes frequencies in the unregulated 2.4 GHz range and is much more susceptible to radio interference from other devices.

Range of 802.11a Networks

Though it helps improve network performance and reduce interference, the range of an 802.11a signal is limited by use of the high 5 GHz frequency. An 802.11a access point transmitter may cover less than one-fourth the area of a comparable 802.11b/g unit. Brick walls and other obstructions affect 802.11a wireless networks to a greater degree than they do comparable 802.11b/g networks.

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