Wireless: 802.11b Wireless Protocol

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General Information

On January 1, 2014, ITS discontinued support for the 802.11b Protocol on the LSU wireless network.

Find out if any of your devices will ONLY SUPPORT 802.11b.

Standard Protocols / 802.11

General Information:

  • Wireless Technology allows our devices to exchange information using radio waves. More specifically, Wi-Fi relies on a number of Protocols to make this exchange happen.
  • The first set of specifications were released in 1997 and provided a Maximum Data Rate (Mbps) of 2 Mbps.  Amendments have been made, making provider improvements & standardizing faster data rates.
  • The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) has developed a set of standards covering the following:
    • Specifications for Wireless Local Area Networks &
    • Protocols that will be supported on the network.  (Protocols are also referred to as 802.11.)

Older Protocols: Support & Backwards Compatibility

  • Support for mobile devices requiring the Older Protocols have been put in place to provide Backwards Compatibility. This type of support model has both Advantages & Disadvantages:
    • Advantages:  We ensure that older devices (devices that DO NOT support the latest technologies) will continue to successfully connect to the LSU wireless network.   (A slower data rate is likely)
    • Disadvantages:  There are older devices that do support the faster data rates and will see their performance degraded when connecting their older device on the newer network.
  • Information Technology Services (ITS) has invested heavily in the improvement and expansion of the campus wireless network.
    • As newer amendments to the 802.11 Standard have been ratified, we have stayed current with the faster data rates, and also remained backward-compatible.  
    • This allowed our wireless network to be functional to a wide array of mobile devices.

Table 1. 802.11 Protocol Family

Wi-Fi Protocols

Release Date
Maximum Data Rate (Mbps)
802.11 Jun 1997 2
802.11b Sep 1999 11
802.11a Sep 1999 54
802.11g Jun 2003 54
802.11n Oct 2009 600


ITS has made the important decision to DISCONTINUE support for the 802.11b Protocol on the LSU wireless network.

Studies on Wireless Usage Consistently Conclude the Following:

  • There is a DECLINE in the number of 802.11b Devices present on LSU's wireless network.  
    • During Fiscal Year 2012-2013, the percentage of 802.11b Devices was LESS THAN 1%.  
  • The impact of NO LONGER supporting 802.11b will be MINIMAL.
    • Discontinuing support for 802.11b Devices will translate into improved wireless network performance and a much better wireless experience for ALL wireless users on campus.
  • Industry Studies show that supporting a legacy Protocol, such as 802.11b, can have a NEGATIVE EFFECT on the overall performance of the wireless network.  
    • It further indicates that the faster data rates available for the new protocols are difficult to attain when older, legacy client support is required.

What Will Happen After January 1, 2014?

After January 1, 2014, the 802.11b Wireless Protocol will not be supported on the LSU wireless network.

  • 802.11a / g & n will be the ONLY Supported Protocols on the LSU wireless network.
  • Your Device DOES NOT have to support ALL of the protocols listed.  As long as it supports one (802.11a/g/n) it will continue to work on the LSU wireless network. 
  • There is NO software to upgrade to support these protocols. It is strictly a hardware upgrade.

Find out if a Device is Affected?

If a device only supports 802.11b, it will no longer work on the LSU Secure wireless network after Jan. 1, 2014.

  • How To Find out If A Device Supports ONLY 802.11b?

Desktops & Laptops:  

Most computers & laptops that have been purchased in the past 6 years have a wireless card that is capable of supporting a combination of 802.11a/g/n.

Depending on the operating system, you may be able to find details about the model and type by looking at the Adapter Properties.  This can provide you with enough information to determine which protocols your computer will support. 

Mobile Devices:  

Depending on the specific vendor, you can find information on the Protocol Type, Speed & Frequency Band.

  • If the speeds you get are above 11 Mbps, then your device supports more than just 802.11b.
  • If your device supports 5 GHz Frequencies, then your device supports more than just 802.11b.

Unable to Determine:

If you are unable to determine whether your device supports any of the supported protocols, contact the ITS Help Desk.

  • Can I Upgrade My Device so that it WILL WORK on the LSU Secure wireless network?

Desktops & Laptops:

You can purchase a NEW wireless adapter that supports any combination of 802.11a/g/n.  These adapters can be USB or PCI depending on what is available on your device.

Mobile Devices & Tablets:

Mobile devices and tablets must come with built-in support for a combination of the 802.11a/g/n protocols, unless the device supports external wireless adapters.

6/26/2020 3:48:53 PM