Print 12 comment(s) - last by jtesoro.. on Jul 25 at 10:33 AM

Everything isn't perfect yet, but manufacturers are steadily improving

With computer makers like Dell and network peripheral manufacturers like D-Link and Netgear releasing products based on the 802.11n draft standard, interest is starting to build for 100Mbps+ wireless network speeds. Back in April of this year, eWeek brought Linksys' WRT300N Wireless-N Broadband router and Netgear's RangeMax 240 (WPNT834) routers to its labs to see how things were panning out in 802.11n land. The initial performance results were promising with both routers seeing 100Mbps+ speeds in full-duplex traffic. The downside was the compatibility with 802.11g networks was rather poor (backwards compatibility is a must given the proliferation of low-cost 802.11g gear).

eWeek has taken another stab at 802.11n testing this week with fresh networking gear from Belkin, Buffalo and Netgear. This time around, even more impressive speeds were achieved. Netgear's WNR854T + WN511T pairing saw over 130Mbps of real-world throughput. But for all the speed offered by these new 802.11n products, compatibility between chipsets is rather poor at this stage in development. From eWeek:

Connecting the Atheros-based Belkin adapter to either of the Broadcom-based routers we tested produced solid results -- in the 70M- to 90M-bps range... Using the Broadcom-based client adapters with the Belkin router was another story, unfortunately. We saw poor performance -- less than 20M bps at short distances -- despite the fact that the connection's link rate hovered at about 300M bps. The Marvell-based products did not interoperate at high speeds with any other products in our tests. The link rate topped out at the 802.11g-maximum 54M bps, which produced the expected 802.11g performance (in the neighborhood of 20M to 22M bps).

Compatibility with 802.11g networks is steadily improving. When connecting to 802.11g access points, 802.11n client adapters were able to achieve speeds three to five times that of legacy 802.11g client adapters. There have, however, been compatibility issues seen when pairing an Intel-based wireless client adapter with 802.11n routers -- D-Link also noted these issues and is working on a fix.

Things are getting better in the 802.11n world. Performance is increasing across the board, backwards compatibility is improving and wireless security is bulking up to protect the large amounts of data that can now be transmitted wirelessly. There will be a bevy of firmware updates from all manufacturers in the next few months as they strive to resolve performance and compatibility issues between chipsets. In the mean time, users should be advised to just wait it out until the final 802.11n spec is ratified.

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No thanks
By DigitalFreak on 7/24/2006 3:08:18 PM , Rating: 4
I'll stick with my 802.11a network at home. I used to use 11g, but after 3 or 4 other 11b/11g networks popped up in my neighborhood, the signal and throughput problems started. Switched to 11a, and haven't had an issue since.

Seems kinda dumb that they would have the 11n standard using 2.4Ghz again, considering how crowded it is.

RE: No thanks
By gerf on 7/25/2006 12:34:41 AM , Rating: 2
It's not crowded near me. Of course, it helps to not have a neighbor closer than a quarter mile away...

RE: No thanks
By Zelvek on 7/25/2006 1:10:11 AM , Rating: 2
I think he is also refering to the fact that alot of other electronics (cordless phones TV brodcasts walkitalkies...) use the 2.4 GHz range as well not to mention that alot of other devices that don't even use wireless tech interfear with that range (microwaves).

Why bother that when 802.16 is coming out?
By Blackraven on 7/25/2006 12:34:42 AM , Rating: 2

This maybe a dumbass question but shouldn't we wait for 802.16 (the "Wimax" standard)

Just asking.

RE: Why bother that when 802.16 is coming out?
By XtremeM3 on 7/25/2006 4:49:02 AM , Rating: 2
To my understanding 802.16 is more of a large scale. The last thing i remember reading was point to multipoint with bandwidth of arond 120Mbs. The reason I don't think it would be more of a homeuse standard is that line of sight is needed. Again, this is going off of things that I read a while ago, I doubt it changed, but I haven't read recent info on 802.16.

My understanding was that you could provide service to businesses and/or homes via wimax to an antena on the building itself but not within in the home/business.

I may be wrong though. I'm sure someone else knows more about this than me.

I am looking forward to 802.11n getting better too. I'm currently working overseas and the homes here are concrete with rebarb inside and wireless connectivity is rough. I have a 3 bedroom apartment and a router in the middle covers the living room and dining room but no decent signal to any other rooms. I'm hoping i can get a little more of a boost in distance with 802.11n.

By jtesoro on 7/25/2006 10:33:48 AM , Rating: 2
I think a good use of WiMax is for backhaul of multiple WiFi hotspots in a given area. There may be places where it isn't practical yet to set up wired, high-capacity infrastructure to connect potential WiFi hotspots to the internet. WiMax could fill in the gap, even only as an interim solution.

RE: No thanks
By masher2 on 7/25/2006 10:10:54 AM , Rating: 2
> "Seems kinda dumb that they would have the 11n standard using 2.4Ghz again.."

There isn't a lot of unlicensed bandwidth around. They could have used 5GHZ, but not only is that band getting crowded as well, but the higher frequency means more trouble with LOS and attenuation.

By gerf on 7/24/2006 2:00:15 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, i don't care about throughput as much as i care about signal connection strength at different distances, through walls, or through emag.

Also, if people are sending more data than before, does this mean keys will be easier to nab since you'll have more data to work with?

RE: distance?
By flintstone33 on 7/24/2006 2:21:42 PM , Rating: 2
The key issue was only a problem with WEP. Now that WPA and WPA2 are available, security concerns for Wireless networks have been solved.

I agree that the real concern should be usable throughput at distance (and through walls). Wizzy-fast speed at 10 feet is kinda useless (CAT 5 is WAY cheaper).

RE: distance?
By masher2 on 7/25/2006 10:17:45 AM , Rating: 2
> "Now that WPA and WPA2 are available, security concerns for Wireless networks have been solved"

The PSK (consumer) version of WPA has some major security issues and is susceptible to cracking.

Can't wait until the spec is finalized
By chucky2 on 7/24/2006 1:08:41 PM , Rating: 2
Can't wait until the spec is finalized and product starts shipping with final spec. hardware.

I've got a dying K6-3+ system I've been using forever now, and I'm just waiting to get a notebook that has 802.11n integrated directly in it.

Please hurry!!!


By Joe Jarvis on 7/24/2006 1:27:31 PM , Rating: 2
I'm in the same boat. Am really looking forward to Intel's Santa Rosa Centrino platform in Q2 2007: 802.11n and the Socket P Meroms.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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