802.11n: In the Air Tonight

High-speed WiFi pre-802.11n gear is already a bona-fide hit on the consumer market. Before too long it also could be appearing in both corporate and municipal networks, despite the fact that the standard still hasn't been officially ratified yet.

This all makes sense from a purely technological standpoint. 802.11n is based on multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) antenna technology, which dramatically increases the data transfer rates and steady throughput of the WiFi network. This should, in theory at least, be especially useful for larger enterprise and muni deployments that will have more users and traffic than home networks.

Its no secret to those in the industry that several enterprise WiFi vendors are gearing up to unveil so-called "pre-n" product. They will be following in the footsteps of firms such as Aruba Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: ARUN), Bluesocket Inc. , and Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY) that already have pre-n multi-antenna access points on their roadmaps. (See Next-Gen Challenges for Enterprise WLAN

Vendors such as Ruckus Wireless Inc. and Strix Systems Inc. are looking at various ways of using the WiFi technology to increase capacity in mesh networking deployments – both indoors and outside. (See Strix Meshes With Samsung and Ruckus Provokes RIOT.)

Enterprise and government users, however, have traditionally been much more cautious about adopting cutting-edge WiFi tech than consumers. It can be a drag if the access points in your multimillion-dollar deployment don't work well together.

Vendors, however, appear to be betting that this time corporate types will be happy to jump the standards gun. There's one major reason for this:

The Wi-Fi Alliance has said that it will do interoperability testing and certification on pre-n products before the standard is ratified. This – combined with the perception that the standard itself won't change in any serious manner between now and ratification in September – is leading some vendors to push ahead with high-speed enterprise and muni products. (See 802.11n Standard Slowly Approaches.)

We shall see if users buy it.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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