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Stretching The Wireless Connection

Recent trends indicate that enterprise wireless LANs are becoming more pervasive and less tactical. Many vendors are certainly headed in that direction. For example, Aruba recently announced its grid-like architecture for ubiquitous enterprise wireless access points.

However, as WLANs become more pervasive, one need becomes increasingly clear: Enterprises and consumers are starting to clamor for their WLANs to have greater range.

In the enterprise, part of the desire for greater range is financial; every additional access point requires another Ethernet and electrical run, which can be difficult to accomplish and expensive. On the home front, the return rate for SOHO wireless equipment can be as high as 30 percent, much of which can be attributed to poor wireless coverage, according to some industry observers.

Ultimately, the IEEE 802.11n standard will satisfy the need for greater coverage. But that standard is at least a year, and more likely two years, away from ratification.

That's why it shouldn't be surprising that some technologies to increase range are starting to appear. Examples include Belkin's so-called pre-N access points based on Airgo Networks' MIMO technology and Vivato's new and expensive panel-sized access point.

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