Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC
802.11n Players Stress Different Emphases
If you review the quote and marketing material from different WLAN vendors over the last few months it's pretty clear that there are divergent views on *what* 802.11n is good for. And it's much more than those vendors just trying to be unique for the sake of value differentiation, it's that they really do have a stake in seeing the market go their way.
There are basically 3 camps:
A means to wire-free networks: Paul DeBeasi of the Burton Group broke the water on this one, and several other analysts quickly followed suit. I've
made my own comments on this and feel that it's plausible, in the right circumstances. Vendors such as Ruckus Wireless specifically, but also Aruba and Trapeze, have brought up the topic of wireless mesh in almost the same breath as 802.11n, suggesting that this new standard is what's needed to backhaul traffic to the wired core of the network.
A solution for coverage problems: You won't find this discussed amongst enterprise players, which are keen on selling more APs and cognizant of potential capacity concerns, but the SOHO vendors are hitting this hard. Cisco-Linksys actually created a very visible marketing element on their retail boxes using 1x, 2x, 4x, etc, comparing the range and speed of their higher-end products against their base models. All the evidence suggests that even 5 GHz 802.11n has as good or better coverage than 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g, so any organization thinking about the coverage angle of 802.11n likely didn't design their WLAN correctly the first time around.
A more reliable and predictable link: this is the one mostly strongly promulgated by Cisco. In a whitepaper summarized by a slide deck Cisco actually came up with a proxy measurement for reliability that's quite plausible, and this messaging relates well to those who are tired of the speeds and feeds rhetoric. That's not to say that Cisco doesn't talk about speed. That same white paper also boasts speeds up to 146 Mbps, results we haven't been able to produce on other pre-802.11n APs.
It's interesting to note that capacity (number of users or bandwidth) is not a key focus of any of the 3 camps. That should be a key indicator that for most organizations capacity is not their pain point. Sure, having some extra burst headroom is helpful for those few times a 10 MB PowerPoint is opened, but generally organizations have built out their network with a 10 to 15 users per AP ratio and the APs have provided sufficient speed for most applications.
Recommended For You
Network slicing could be the answer to 5G rollout – but it's not easy to implement. Automation provides a way forward.
Wi-Fi 7 products, due out in 2024, will offer significantly more performance for enterprise users and can support more users in denser environments compared to Wi-Fi 6.
6G will leverage many different bands and tools to meet the ever-growing demands and expectations for cellular communications.