But when it comes to proprietary and non-standard 802.11g features, Atheros is not alone. Broadcoms products include a feature called Xpress that uses packet bursting to increase performance beyond the standard 54 Mbps. Intersil promotes a similar technology called PRISM Nitro. None of these features are part of the 802.11g standardalthough packet bursting is part of a proposed extension called wme. So is this a tempest in a teapot? Certainly, if you put two 802.11g networks within a few feet of each other, youre asking for trouble. When it comes to the Atheros channel bonding, Id recommend that most users disable itunless they have more than 100 feet separating their house from any others. D-Link and Netgear should clearly warn their customers of channel bondings potentially destructive impact.But theres a broader issue here. Wi-Fi networking has been so successful because its so consistent. For users, the guarantee that any two 802.11b (or 802.11g) devices will work together makes it much easier to invest in the products. Compare the universal interoperability of Wi-Fi with Bluetoothwhich has suffered through two years of incompatible products. Wi-Fis a raging success, and Bluetooth is still struggling for relevance. There is absolutely no place in the market for these proprietary add-on featureswhether theyre called Nitro, Xpress, Turbo or Super. Granted, the others arent nearly as over the top as channel bonding, but by insinuating to the consumer that there are differences between the products, an implied lack of interoperability could scare many away. I also expect confusion over the claims made by Broadcom, which could also cause potential customers to doubt the reliability of Wi-Fi networks. So lets drop all these performance-enhancing technologies until they become real standards. Because those standards are Wi-Fi networking has been the brightest spot in todays technology marketlifting the fortunes of Atheros; Intersil; and Broadcom, too. Discuss This in the eWEEK Forum eWEEK.com Wireless Center Columnist Jim Louderback is editor in chief of Ziff Davis Internet.
At work, Id stick with the standard 802.11g implementations, to guarantee interoperability with all 802.11b and 802.11g devices.