The Arrival Of Draft 802.11n Wireless Products

Finalization of the 802.11n wireless standard won't happen until next year, but products based on the draft of the faster standard have begun to arrive.

April 21, 2006

2 Min Read
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Finalization of the 802.11n wireless standard won’t happen until next year, but products based on the draft of the faster standard have begun to arrive.

This week, Cisco subsidiary Linksys, Irvine, Calif., introduced a family of six products based on the draft of the 802.11n standard, which was adopted by the IEEE on Jan. 19. Access points, wireless gateways and both single- and dual-band routers are part of the new offerings from Linksys—such as the dual-band WRT600n router, which delivers faster data rates and a wider wireless coverage area and starts at about $199, said Malachy Moynihan, vice president of engineering and product marketing.

The 802.11n standard is supposed to use multiple antenna and radio configurations to achieve data streaming rates ranging from 75 Mbps to 600 Mbps, Moynihan said. The n standard is backward compatible to former a-, b- and g-standard products, and has a range three times that of g-standard equipment, he said.

All of Linksys’ new draft-n products outperform g-standard products in a very significant way, Moynihan said. But there is a caveat, he added.

“We can not guarantee that the early draft standard products will be upgradeable to the final standard that will probably be ratified sometime next year. But there will be a lot of draft-n products that will operate at speeds way higher than g performance, even if they do not fully conform to the n-standard,” Moynihan said.D-Link, Fountain Valley, Calif., is presently rolling out its RangeBooster N 650 series of wireless routers and network adapters based on the draft-n specification, according to D-Link. Draft-n products from Belkin, Compton, Calif., are expected to arrive shortly, company representatives said.

On April 13, Buffalo Technology, Austin, Texas, introduced its first draft 802.11n products in the form of its AirStation Nfinity line of routers and PCI adapters, said Brian Verenkoff, product manager. Verenkoff said the Buffalo products start in the range of $150 and he is confident that the draft-n products are pretty much on the mark when it comes to achieving the promise of the standard, even though absolute forward compatibility to the final n standard cannot be guaranteed.

“Any changes made at this point to the standard will probably be extremely minor,” Verenkoff said.

The relative low cost of the draft-n products arriving from vendors takes much of the risk out of deploying the products ahead of the final standard, according to Steven Miller, CEO of Pacific Voice and Data, a solution provider in Union City, Calif., that resells a range of products from Belkin, D-link and others.

Most important is ongoing vendor support of not only the draft-n standard products, but g-standard products as well, Miller said. “You have to figure out a way to support them going forward, regardless of what the standard is,” he said.0

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