Everyones Guilty

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2003-11-20 Print this article Print

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 standard—although 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 it—unless 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.
At work, Id stick with the standard 802.11g implementations, to guarantee interoperability with all 802.11b and 802.11g devices.
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 Bluetooth—which 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 features—whether 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 market—lifting 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.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including ExtremeTech.com, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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