I'm taking a module on wireless design and we were told that the IEEE 802.11b standard has a band of 2.4 to 2.4835 GHz and that it is divided into 13 channels. Now, my question is, does that mean that it can only support 13 devices at once? I couldn't find any explanation of this online.

I know it's kind of a vague question.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ No. Several devices can communicate on the same channel, but will interfere with each other and compete for it's usage. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eugene Sh.
    Oct 25, 2018 at 20:08

1 Answer 1


The 802.11 family of standards is (generally) based on CSMA/CA - Carrier sense, multiple access with collision avoidance. This means that multiple devices can use the same channel (radio frequency range in the case of 802.11) and communicate with each other. Each device has a MAC address, and there are addresses allocated to broadcast packets.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Does that mean that each device on the same channel is allocated some bandwith of that channel for itself? Or does that mean that all devices on the same channel are competitng and one can only transmit when it senses that nobody else is transmitting? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2018 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, it means each device has to listen before transmitting. All of the devices connected to the same network have the same bandwidth assigned to them, usually determined by the access point, to support the slowest device. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lior Bilia
    Oct 25, 2018 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah okay. What if you had one device continually transmitting? Is there something that would stop it or? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2018 at 20:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ What happens when a person in the crowd continuously shouts? Either move to a different room or remain silent. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lior Bilia
    Oct 25, 2018 at 20:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Awesome analogy. The room being a channel. Thanks a lot. I think I get it now! \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2018 at 23:22

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