802.11n & Voice
3:00 PM -- Sure, faster/better/cheaper drives high tech. Improving price/performance is the jacks-or-better to get into (or stay in) the game. 802.11n is faster and better and cheaper, and those are the obvious reasons why it’s going to be so successful. 11n improves every dimension of the WLAN experience -- or does it?
One thing that is sometimes forgotten in networking and communications is that real-time media doesn’t really need “faster,” assuming that the sustained bit rate achieved yields acceptable performance in terms of audio and/or video/visual quality. Faster, of course, has a beneficial effect on capacity, but making an individual stream faster doesn’t buy anything for that stream.
In addition, real-time media suffers from the relatively large amount of overhead associated with individual IP packets and .11 frames. Generally, media involves fairly small packets, meaning the packet and frame header overhead is proportionally greater here. Given the additional overhead in setting up each transfer, and the guard interval involved in cleaning up afterwards, .11n may not contribute as much additional capacity as one might think. This is not to say that .11n won’t become dominant in voice-over-WiFi and other media applications; it will. But this will primarily be due to the broad availability of components and the commonality in infrastructure and clients that otherwise contribute to better bandwidth utilization.
— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung