Currently there are three wireless-networking standards competing for your airtime. Wi-Fi (802.11b) is the corporate choice and has a suitably wide range for use in big office spaces. 802.11a offers bigger bandwidth and fewer interference problems but a shorter range. Bluetooth is meant for short-range, temporary networking in conference rooms, schools or homes. In addition to the detailed rundowns below, check out our side-by-side comparison of these different technologies with traditional, wired Ethernet.
|Pros||Cons||Approximate range||Max. / typical data speeds|
|Ethernet||inexpensive; included on most new PCs; hundreds of hardware makers||requires cabling; larger networks need hubs and switches||91m (300 feet) per segment||100 / 60Mbps (for 100Mbps network)|
|Wi-Fi (802.11b)||relatively inexpensive; dozens of manufacturers; WECA certification; radios integrated on new notebooks||data speeds inadequate for high-end multimedia; 3 channels||30m (100 feet)||11 / 5.5Mbps|
|Wi-Fi5 (802.11a)||high bandwidth for multiple users or multimedia distribution; 8 channels||expensive; small number of manufacturers||15m (50 feet)||54 / 22Mbps|
|Bluetooth||very cheap for integrated radio on handheld or cellphone; widespread installation; low power||low data throughput; short range; lack of compatibility||6-15m (20-50 feet)||723 / 300Kbps|