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Move Forward with 802.11n

If you haven't yet moved to strategic Wi-Fi deployment, you may find yourself in a tight spot when it comes to the 802.11n standard. 802.11n offers five times the throughput of 11a and 11g, but a final standard isn't likely until 2008, and today's prestandard chipsets aren't likely to be firmware upgradeable to the final standard.

As the time approaches to make a significant investment, you'd probably like to see some protection. Does it make sense to deploy 802.11a/b/g when 11n is imminent?

When the market was transitioning from 11b to 11g and 11a, Cisco and other vendors provided access points with replaceable radio modules. Many organizations bought these products, but only a small minority ever swapped out a radio module. Still, it's reasonable to expect similar products--so-called 11n-ready APs capable of supporting multiple radios--to emerge in the enterprise market. For some, these solutions will be appealing.

So the delay of the 11n standard isn't all bad. It makes the choice to move forward with existing technology easier. Ugly problems will get addressed in the draft-n consumer market, and even if early products don't conform to the final standard, they'll at least provide backward compatibility with 11g. Still, keep the pressure on your vendor to help you manage the inevitable transition to 11n. --Dave Molta, [email protected]