802.11 (sometimes called "Wi-Fi") is a set of protocols that are widely used for small Local Area Networks. Another protocol called Bluetooth allows devices to communicate wirelessly, but it is only useful for very short ranges, and generally not used for home networking. Bluetooth can be useful for networking personal devices in a small area, often called a Personal Area Network (PAN).
802.11 standards actually encompass several different protocols. The trailing letters (i.e. 802.11a) indicate different speeds and frequency bands used. The most important ones are listed below:
2.5 GHz band
5 GHz band
This standard is older and most products on the market do not support this standard.
Currently, there are products on the market that use this standard, but if they are not dual band (eg. 802.11a/b) they are not compatible with any of the products that use the 2.5 GHz frequency (802.11b, g or n).
802.11b (11 Mbps)
Our original 11 Mbps Wireless products used this standard. These products were very affordable and are compatible with 802.11b/g/n products made by other companies.
802.11b (22 Mbps)
Our 22 Mbps Wireless Access products are compatible with 802.11b (at 11 Mbps), and are compatible with 802.11g (at the slower 11 Mbps speed). Our 22 Mbps products are considered both backward- and forward-compatible with these standards. When used with 11 Mbps products, these products give you a stronger signal, greater range, and 70% more coverage area.
Our 54 Mbps Wireless Access products are compatible with 802.11b/g/n products, and they are compatible with accelerated g, or 100/125 Mbps Wireless products.
802.11g accelerated or enhanced (Wireless Turbo & MAXg)
100/125 Mbps Wireless Access products are compatible with 802.11g (54 Mbps) and 802.11b. If you have 22 Mbps 802.11b products or 54 Mbps 802.11g products, you will be able to add 802.11g Wireless Turbo or MAXg products without having to replace your current equipment.
802.11n Draft 2 (Ndx)
Our 270 Mbps 802.11n Draft 2.0 Wireless Access products are compatible with 802.11g and 802.11b. If you have 802.11b products or 802.11g products, you will be able to add 802.11n Ndx products without having to replace your current equipment. To get the maximum speed you will need to have 802.11n equipment at both ends of the connection.
802.11ac Wireless Access products are compatible with most 802.11 devices including n, g, and b. To get the maximum speed you will need to have 802.11ac equipment at both ends of the connection.
Currently, standard 802.11g communicates at 54 Mbps. Our 100/125 Mbps 802.11g equipment will transmit at twice that speed when used with other 100/125 Mbps gear. It will also "step down" to talk to 802.11g at 54 Mbps or 802.11b at 11 or 22 Mbps. Standard 802.11b communicates at 11 Mbps. Our 22 Mbps 802.11b equipment transmits at twice that speed when used with other 22 Mbps gear. It will also "step down" to talk to 802.11b at 11 Mbps.
Note that 802.11a and 802.11b are not directly compatible with one another, but future products may be created to "bridge" the two networks and allow these devices to communicate.