Wireless Technology Comparison Chart
 
Wireless Standard  

802.11b

 

802.11a

 

802.11g

 

802.11n

 

802.11ac

Popularity   +++ Widely adopted, readily available everywhere   + Limited adoption   ++ Medium adoption,
replaced b
as commonplace
  ++ Many products,
some based on a draft specification, later
finalized Oct, 2009
  + Draft, only a few manufactures have chips based on draft specification
Speed
(theoretical)
  11Mbps Up to 11Mbps   54Mbps Up to 54Mbps   54Mbps Up to 54Mbps   300Mbps Up to 300Mbps   1Gbps Up to 1000Mbps,
theoretically
Relative Cost   $ Inexpensive   $$$ Expensive   $$ Moderate   $$ Moderate   $$$ Expensive
Frequency   2.4Ghz Crowded 2.4GHz band, may conflict with other 2.4GHz devices like cordless phones, microwave ovens, etc.   5Ghz 5GHz band only   2.4Ghz Crowded 2.4GHz band, may conflict with other 2.4GHz devices like cordless phones, microwave ovens, etc   5Ghz and/or
2.4Ghz
Only some devices support 5Ghz or include dual-band radios   5Ghz 5GHz band only
Range   100-
150ft
Good Range, typically up to 100-150 feet indoors, depending on construction, building materials, room layout   25-
75ft
Limited range, typically no more than 25 to 75 feet indoors   100-
150ft
Good Range, typically up to 100-150 feet indoors, depending on construction, building materials, room layout   ~230ft Promises great range, but varies depending on indoor objects and nearby devices using the same frequency   ?ft No real-world test data at this time
Public Access   +++ Public "Hot Spots" growing rapidly, allowing WiFi access in airports, hotels, college campuses, restaurants, etc.   X None at this time   ++ Compatible with current 802.11b "Hot Spots" which may convert to 802.11g Realize ISP may not be providing access anywhere near 54Mbps   + Very limited, more likely that your n device is associating to b/g AP at 2.4Ghz   X None at this time
Compatibility   OK
802.11b
Widest adoption   OK
802.11a
Incompatible with 802.11b or 802.11g   OK
802.11b
802.11g
Interoperates with 802.11b networks (at 11Mbps) incompatible with 802.11a unless supported by certain dual-radio APs   OK
802.11b
802.11g
802.11a
Interoperates with b/g/a, small performance hit when mixed-mode is enabled and legacy devices are associated   OK
802.11a
802.11n
Interoperates with a/n APs (only when n is a dual-band 5Ghz radio)

Only un-licensed 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz devices are discussed here, with the focus being consumer devices (laptops, mobile phones, gaming devices, etc.)
Since consumer devices/home wireless routers have become commonplace only DECT 6.0 (1.9Ghz) phones and baby monitors are in the clear, and should be used to avoid impacting wireless LANs.
This chart is not all-encompassing, there are many other un/licensed bands for wireless Ethernet and other types of data connectivity.

Channel usage chart...


More good reading...
Intel's Different Wi-Fi Protocols and Data Rates explanation
7signal's 80MHz and 160MHz Channel Bonding explanation

Last updated 07/11/2017