802.11n Makes More and More Sense

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The new-kid-on-the-block version of Wi-Fi, 802.11n, offers distinct advantages over existing flavors of the standard. One of the reasons is flexibility: It operates in the 5 GHz spectrum as well as the more familiar 2.4 GHz spectrum.


Consultant Jim Geier has written an interesting at piece at Wi-Fi Planet outlining what goes into the decision on which of the two spectrum slots to use. Though this may seem like a geeky discussion -- it seems that way because it is -- the decision can have ramifications on how money is spent and the results that emerge.


Geier says that in some cases, only the 2.4 GHz spectrum can legally be used. Where there is a choice, Geier writes, planners must choose between 5 GHz's better performance and, on the other side of the coin, the reality that there are far more 2.4 GHz devices available. Systems set at 2.4 GHz may have more range but be susceptiable to interference.


This is a gargantuan story about a gargantuan 802.11n test run by Network World. The piece looked at products from BlueSocket, Siemens, Aerohive and Motorola. The BlueSocket AP-1800, which is paired with the BSC-2200 controller, won the day. Speed was conspicuous: The piece says that products routinely broke the 2 Gbps threshold, which represented a 10-fold gain over 802.11a and b. Graphics detail how the products performed in throughput and latency and jitter testing both in pure 802.11n and mixed 802.11n/a/b environments. A final chart looks at power consumption.


All the excitement among vendors seems to be worthwhile. Last month, an ABI Research release surmised that almost 1 million SMBs are candidates for 802.11n deployment. The unique way in which SMBs buy electronic gear makes them good prospects for pre-standard 802.11n, says the firm. 802.11n, the reports said, makes certain verticals -- such as retail, real estate, transportation and sectors that use warehouses -- likely users of the technology, the report says.


Education is another high-profile vertical, though one that doesn't have a lot of money to throw around. This piece in T.H.E. Journal says that the Santa Clara Unified School District in California has chosen Ruckus Wireless for a 802.11n deployment that will extend 25 locations. The network will serve about 15,000 students and 1,000 employees. Ruckus said that it also is providing 802.11n equipment and services to the Tonasket School District in Washington, Holland Christian Schools in Michigan, and the Schenectady City School District in New York. The company has started a program aimed at the educational vertical.


Companies -- particularly SMBs -- should give serious consideration to 802.11n technology. Concerns that the standard, which is not finalized, would change radically before being nailed down is fading, according to ITWorldCanada. Another cause for concern is changes that must be made to a network that now uses an earlier 802.11 variant. Though some tweaks are necessary, the transition is not too disruptive, the story says.