Speedy 802.11n Wi-Fi Slowly Moves Center Stage

Carl Weinschenk

The rollout of new equipment can be confusing. For instance, while a tremendous amount of 802.11n gear is available -- more than 90 products were certified as Draft 2 compliant by The Wi-Fi Alliance as of late September -- it still apparently is big news when they actually are used.

 

Indeed, TechWorld says that Morrisville State College in upstate New York is the site of the first large-scale rollout. The school replaced 720 existing access points (APs) with the same number of Meru Network's AP 320 11n APs. There have been no formal studies of how the devices are doing. Anecdotally, however, users report better throughput and the ability to run demanding applications more easily. The piece says Duke University is using 802.11n in dorms and Carnegie Mellon University is planning a big rollout next year.

 

Meru also claims to be the first vendor to do a campus installation in Europe, though the supporting quotes hedge a bit. In any case, the company soon will deploy 30 of its AP300 APs to serve Espergļæ½rde High School in Denmark. The plan is to eventually add voice to the network, which will operate in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency ranges.

 

The disconnect between equipment availability and deployments can be explained by one of two factors. For one thing, companies aren't totally comfortable with pre-standard equipment. It also is clear that the rollouts themselves are tricky, especially in systems already served by other flavors of 802.11.

 

EDN looks at whether or not 802.11n will present deployment problems. The story provides a good deal of technical background. The writer describes the safeguards in the protocol that enable it to work in legacy systems. The piece lists five concerns about deployment: Operations on 40-MHz channels in the 2.4 GHz band and the use of four new approaches: more efficient orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), short guard interval (GI), frame aggregation and block acknowledgement (ACK).


 

Despite the challenges, folks expect 802.11n to take over. The first half of this InformationWeek piece looks at the Dell'Oro Group's third quarter wireless local-area network (WLAN) market share numbers. Cisco finished at 63.4 percent, a slight increase from the 62 percent it held during the previous quarter. Aruba Networks finished a distant second at 8 percent. The overall market grew 8 percent to $390.9 million.

 

The later part of the story suggests that the "real growth" in enterprise wireless LANs will be generated by 802.11n going forward. The story suggests that the industry is starting to look ahead, as evidenced by the fact that earlier this month Aruba became the last major vendor to introduce 802.11n gear. Now that Cisco has joined the parade -- that only happened in September -- the pace should pick up considerably.



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Feb 22, 2008 4:09 AM VoIP-Facts.net: The Blog VoIP-Facts.net: The Blog  says:
2-22-2008 Technology Week in Review... Largest 802.11n deployment planned by Duke University, Star Wars 2008, Broadband Balloons, and T-Mobile goes VoIP. News and Commentary on the weeks more interesting stories. ...... Reply

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