Skip links
Echo5G IoT Network Edge Data Center

Navigating the Wireless World: Comparing 802.11 and 3GPP Standards

When it comes to wireless communication, there are a variety of different standards that are used to connect devices. Two of the most commonly used standards are 802.11 and 3GPP. While they may seem similar at first glance, they are actually quite different and serve different purposes. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between these two standards and explore how they are used in modern wireless networks. 

First, let’s talk about 802.11. This is a set of standards developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for wireless local area networks (WLANs). It is commonly known as Wi-Fi. The original 802.11 standard was released in 1997, and there have been several updates and amendments to the standard since then, such as 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac. The 802.11 standard defines the physical layer (PHY) and the media access control (MAC) layer of the WLAN. The PHY specifies the physical characteristics of the wireless communication, such as the frequency bands and modulation techniques used, while the MAC defines how devices access the wireless medium and handle communication between devices. 

On the other hand, 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) is a collaboration between several telecommunications standards development organizations that creates specifications for cellular networks such as 3G, 4G, and 5G. 3GPP standardizes the radio access technologies (RATs) used in cellular networks, including frequency bands, modulation techniques, and protocol stacks. It also defines the structure of the network and the interfaces between the different network elements such as the mobile device, the base station, and the core network. 

One of the main differences between 802.11 and 3GPP is the purpose they serve. 802.11 is used for short-range, high-speed communication over a local area network, while 3GPP is used for wide-area communication over a cellular network. In other words, 802.11 is used to connect devices within a small area, such as a home or office, while 3GPP is used to connect devices across a larger area, such as a city or region. 

Another key difference is the frequency bands that are used. The most commonly used frequencies for 802.11 are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, while 3GPP networks operate on various frequency bands, such as 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, and 2.5 GHz. The 2.4 GHz band is more crowded and has a shorter range, but it can penetrate walls and other obstacles better than the 5 GHz band. The 5 GHz band has a longer range and can support faster data rates, but it is more susceptible to interference from other devices. 

When it comes to data rates, 802.11 networks can vary depending on the standard being used. For example, 802.11b supports data rates of up to 11 Mbps, while 802.11n and 802.11ac support data rates of up to 600 Mbps and 1.3 Gbps, respectively. On the other hand, 3G networks support data rates of up to 2 Mbps, while 4G (LTE) networks support data rates of up to 100 Mbps and 5G can go up to 20 Gbps. 

In conclusion, while 802.11 and 3GPP both serve the purpose of wireless communication, they are quite different in terms of their intended use, frequency bands, and data rates. 802.11 is mainly used for wireless local area networks while 3GPP is used for cellular networks. Understanding the differences between these two standards can help you make better decisions.