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For Now, Say No To MIMO

The new Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) smart antenna technology (define) can be a great boon for enterprises, because it offers much greater data throughput and range than existing standard WiFi hardware. This can mean big savings and greater productivity, because businesses would be able to more easily and inexpensively build wireless networks, and those networks will have greater bandwidth than existing ones.

But when it comes to MIMO, it's buyer beware. That's because the MIMO standard, 802.11n, has yet to be ratified.

This hasn't stopped vendors such as Linksys from releasing MIMO hardware. Most of the hardware is aimed at the small office home office market as of right now, but expect that to change.

Enterprises should generally stay away from MIMO until 802.11n is ratified, which is most likely two or so years away. In fact, ideally companies should be leery of it until there is some kind of certification procedure for ensuring that hardware actually adheres to the standard. Companies that buy MIMO hardware today face serious interoperability problems, and possibly other woes as well.

However, in some limited circumstances, it makes sense to buy MIMO today. If an enterprise buys all hardware from the same vendor, rolls it out in a limited way, and has no plans to use it beyond several years, it's worth a try it. But except for that, it's still buyer beware.