Getting Lost in Alphabet Soup

IEEE802.11n is Everywhere

IEEE802.11n is really picking up steam since being ratified a little over a year ago, with products showing up not only commercially but even in products sold at retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon. There is a lot to this standard (over 500 pages of documentation alone!) – including potential for higher throughput and better interoperability due to the extended review period, early products, and extensive testing.

Not All Devices Are Equal

However- not all 802.11n devices and equipment are created equal. While the standard allows for operating on either of two unique RF bands (2.5GHz and 5 GHz)–it is not mandatory–so a lot of equipment is ‘single-band’. Be sure to read the fine print and know what you’re buying. In real-world installations, customers are finding that the existing 2.45GHz band has become congested; so being able to operate at the less-crowded 5GHz and segregate traffic between the two bands is a key success factor. Combining this capability with antenna diversity makes signal integrity and reliability better. Antenna diversity allows the device to select the best antenna to maximize signal strength. (A quick plug: Lantronix’ PremierWave EN is one product that supports dual-band 802.11n allowing the attached equipment to communicate on either band. It also incorporates Antenna Diversity). IEEE802.11r is another interesting member of the alphabet soup. Look for that in an upcoming blog!