20070920

Wait for 802.11n?

Over the last couple months, I encountered several articles that advised waiting to adopt 802.11n. One addressed large enterprises and another addressed small businesses. Others addressed whoever would read, though.

While large enterprises and small businesses face difficulties that may warrant waiting (lots of distributed resources and limited resources respectively), the increasingly common wisdom that everyone should wait on 802.11n perplexes me. I've been happily using 802.11n since January; and my Cat-6 cables are out of sight unless I want Gigabit Ethernet for something particularly intensive. I just consistently enjoy a 130+ Mbps link with no wires. Fast Ethernet is done on my network.

Interoperability issues? None. Downshifts to 802.11g speeds? Nope. Surely I use only one manufacturer's products then, right? No, I'm using a mix of a few random vendors' draft products. Try as I have, I just haven't been able to stub my toe on any of the concerns I've read. Frankly, as I near a year with 802.11n, I can't imagine going back to cables, 802.11g, or (Lord, help me!) 802.11b. ...would never know it from all that I've read since I took the plunge, though! :-)

To large enterprises waiting on the sidelines, follow the progress of the few that are already playing. Network World's article on Morrisville State College's 900-AP rollout is a good place to start, and Morrisville isn't alone. However, to individuals and small businesses with the knowhow to configure anything 802.11 already, who are sick of cables to get decent mobile performance, who may already have an occasion to add wireless gear (a (couple) new notebook(s), a long-overdue broadband router - whatever), waiting on 802.11n doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

1 comment:

  1. I just came across a Slashdot post that reports 802.11n "may never happen" (whatever that means) due to patent concerns. Apparently Australia's CSIRO, which invented 802.11g and 802.11n, has not assured IEEE that it won't pursue patent litigation against vendors selling 802.11n products. ...interesting.

    More interestingly, American vendors selling 802.11g gear are apparently supposed to pay CSIRO royalties but haven't to date. On the one hand, that's a shame if true, considering how adamantly American companies (rightfully I think) demand protections and enforcement for their IP internationally. On the other hand, as a purely personal, practical matter, what do I care? I have the 802.11n gear I need for now; and even if 802.11n remains unofficial and "never happen[s]", more hardware will still be available for a while. If not - to reality check an extreme possibility? Compatible 802.11g gear remains available as a safety net, and I don't expect that to change - even more so if the aforementioned, apparent violations are untrue. Why should anyone with a small 802.11n network care?

    Now large enterprises are a different matter altogether. If I was in the driver's seat of a big 802.11n initiative, I'd certainly want to dig into this a bit deeper and formulate a plan to address potential contingencies if necessary.

    It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds.

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