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I've spent my afternoon browsing around the web looking for a microcontroller that has integrated WLAN (802.11), but I haven't managed to find any on the market. There are lots of cheap microcontrollers on the market that work in the 2.4 GHz band and usually they support the ZigBee protocol (802.15).

Since these chips work on the same frequency and some of them use the same modulation that is employed by WLAN, I'm not sure if it's possible or not to implement WLAN using these chips. I know ZigBee is a totally different protocol, but does this mean that they actually don't support any other protocol, or does it mean that it isn't impossible but I'd have to sort of "reinvent the wheel" and build my own networking stack from scratch?

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No, you can't use a Zigbee specific processor in a 802.11 WLAN. They're not reprogrammable.

You might want to take a look at the ESP8266, which is a (slow) Wifi module that seems to be reprogrammable.

Adafruit Link to a Module https://www.adafruit.com/products/2282 Instructables Link to a How-To http://www.instructables.com/id/Getting-Started-with-the-ESP8266-ESP-12/

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