Broadcom Unveils 802.11n Routers Targeting SMBs

Paul Mah

Broadcom Corporation has unveiled a series of new microprocessors and software designed to implement wireless 802.11n networking. This comes relatively shortly after the final ratification of 801.11n, at a time when 802.11n routers are already outselling those based on the slower 802.11g.

Of particular note is how one of the processors in the line-up comes with support for simultaneous dual-band wireless, a high-performance option that utilizes both 2.4GHz and 5Ghz bands of radio. While dual-band access points (AP) are not totally new, they are certainly far from mainstream, representing a relatively small fraction of wireless routers or APs today.

The availability of the platform solutions from Broadcom means that SMBs can expect the 802.11n standard to become even more commonplace as they are adopted by various OEMs and equipment manufacturers. In fact, the the high-end BCM47186 model also comes with gigabit Ethernet support in order to maximize its wireless throughput.

Confirming the inexorable move toward dual-band 802.11n, Philip Solis, ABI Research practice director, in a statement noted that "Simultaneous dual-band 802.11n is important for consumers who want to move entertainment content throughout their homes without cords or wires. Utilizing both parts of the spectrum multiplies the available bandwidth to support high-quality media streaming, deliver faster downloads and enhance online gaming."

Where small and medium-sized businesses are concerned, what is so exciting about dual-band routers is how the same number of existing access points (AP) can effectively serve more users with little or no degradation in bandwidth. More practically, it represents a clear upgrade path for SMBs still undecided on whether to implement a Wi-Fi network.

Laptops with support for 802.11n today will work with either the 2.4GHz band or 5GHz band. Older devices, or those equipped with 802.11g, however, are generally stuck in the 2.4GHz frequency. As such, older machines can be configured to run on 2.4GHz, while newer devices can be set to operate at the 5GHz band. The result is better load sharing while potentially reducing the number of APs required by half.

In addition, the availability of dual-band technology means that there is more headroom for future expansion both in the larger bandwidth available in the 5GHz band, and even the eventual availability of client devices that can operate in simultaneous dual-band mode.

Later this week, I will be putting together a simple guide of pointers to look out for when deploying Wi-Fi in the office.

Have you implemented Wi-Fi in your SMB? Do share your experiences with us here.

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