Great Leaps Still Possible in Wireless

Carl Weinschenk

When raising a teenager or researching telecommunication equipment, it is a good idea to have an open mind -- but to disbelieve claims until they are proven.

In some cases, the promises indeed are true. Healthy skepticism -- but not cynicism -- makes sense when considering Wavion's spatially adaptive access points, which are described in this Wi-Fi Planet story. The platform, which the story positions as an alternative to mesh technologies, is being used by the Alleghany County Network (AllCoNet) in Cumberland, MD. AllCoNet has deployed 120 of the company's access points.

The vendor says the platform offers two to three times better coverage than other APs. Those aggressive comments were echoed by Todd Tanner, executive vice president at CONXX, the company that manages AllCoNet. Tanner said a great number of APs were tested, and they offered about the same level of performance -- and were easily beaten by the Wavion equipment.

Of course, we are in no position to attest to the veracity of Wavion's claims, though we are impressed that an outsider sounds as enthusiastic as those within the company. The bottom line is that the wireless sector still is new enough to witness more than incremental increases in performance. The job of IT departments is to decide which new approach is real and which is vaporware.

For instance, the jury still is out on xG Technology. About two years ago, the company announced Xmax, a wireless platform it said would send wireless signals farther at less cost than known technologies. The latest news is good for the company: Far Reach Technologies, an ISP in Volusia County, Fla, is reported to be readying a commercial deployment in August. However, skepticism the project has engendered from the start shows no sign of abating.

Our point is that IT departments shouldn't dismiss seemingly extravagant claims as the equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster or a Nigerian e-mail scam. Indeed, many accepted standards are significantly faster than those that they seek to directly or indirectly replace. For instance, a look at speed charts for 802.11n versus 802.11g and 3G versus mobile WiMax show quite a spread.

The point to keep in mind is that wireless networking is still new enough that great leaps are possible, and IT departments should be open to the possibility that they can occur.

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