Carrier WiFi

.11n Thunder

3:30 PM -- I have for some time been forecasting that all we’ll find on store shelves and embedded in notebooks roughly 18 months after the 802.11n specification is finished is, in fact .11n. The eventual fading of .11g -- and thus .11b -- and .11a is most certainly inevitable. Yes, .11n will get that cheap that fast.

And, in fact, even faster. With the Wi-Fi Alliance still set to issue its specs regarding .11n this quarter, I’m now forecasting that .11n will be the dominante technology in wireless LANs by the end of this year -- yes, 2007. Recent conversations with chip and systems companies indicates that the rollout of products based on the (still officially interim) WiFi spec will be dramatic -- huge volumes at popular, if not low, prices. I expect prices to fall rapidly due to competition, with low-end home routers selling well below $100 in the second half of this year. And we should see the availability of .11n APs from essentially all enterprise-class vendors before the end of this year, or certainly no later than early 2008. And all this despite the fact that, officially, .11n won’t be done until next year. But that doesn’t really matter -- after all, we buy WiFi, not .11.

And even though .11n will be most prevalent in low-end configurations, I am also expecting to see some 3x3 and even 4x4 antenna arrays on the market over the next year. So, from low price to amazing performance, .11n is going to shake up the WLAN space perhaps like no development ever has before. And it’s all going to happen with unprecedented market velocity.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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