No Rush to High-Speed WiFi

Enterprise users probably don't need Gartner Inc. to tell them to hold off on deploying pre-standard versions of the high-speed 802.11n specification. Most are already running readily available -- and technically stable -- WiFi technology.

The research firm put out a note this week warning enterprise users to stay away from products based on the several "pre-802.11n" chipsets announced by silicon vendors this week. Promising data transfer rates of up to 600 Mbit/s, 802.11n technology will certainly attract those who feel the need for higher speeds. Typically, today's 802.11 networks can achieve maximum speeds of 54 Mbit/s, usually significantly less in the real world. The eventual standard will operate in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and will support compatibility with the current 802.11a/b/g standards.

"The standard is far from final, and most enterprises should avoid adopting early releases," warns Gartner. "Plan to stay with Wi-Fi certified products under the 802.11a/b/g banner. Expect these technology investments to be good for at least four more years."

Most people working with WiFi don't need telling twice.

"We're keeping an eye on [802.11n]," says Ryan McCaigue, director of operations for MobilePro, a company that is deploying Strix Systems Inc. 's mesh networking gear in Tempe and Chandler, Ariz. "But you have to consider that a lot of things are over-hyped... "You have to commit at some point, you can't keep waiting for the next technology over the horizon."

Gartner says that it could "potentially recommend adding 802.11n compliance to requirements if the standard is ratified and the Wi-Fi Alliance certifies the products."

In the meantime, some of these "pre-n" systems will flourish in the home, where video and music streaming applications could eat up the extra bandwidth quickly. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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