Retooling for 802.11n

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2008-04-14 Print this article Print

eWEEK Labs offers advice on evaluating the coming WLAN tools wave. 

While all the major enterprise-grade wireless LAN access providers now support 802.11n, one of the many stumbling blocks for enterprises interested in pursuing the technology is the current lack of adequate planning and troubleshooting tools to help ease the migration from legacy WLAN standards.

So far, portable and overlay wireless analysis tools have supported 802.11n only in a limited fashion.

These products have been able to detect the presence of devices operating in draft 802.11n or pre-N modes, and perhaps detect the use of 40MHz wide channels. However, these tools have not been able to take on the 11n data or management frame analysis required to actually troubleshoot 802.11n networks. What's more, this generation of tools has not been able to locate accurately the position of 11n devices operating in HT (high throughput) mode.

eWEEK Labs evaluates wireless LAN tools. Read the review. 

Fortunately, satisfactory 802.11n support for both portable analyzers and overlay analysis and security networks is on its way. I anticipate that several wireless networking players will announce full 802.11n analysis support for their products, starting at the Interop show in Las Vegas later this month and continuing throughout the rest of the second quarter.

With a herd of new 802.11n analysis tool product refreshes on the horizon, wireless administrators should begin to familiarize themselves with some of the more technical aspects of 802.11n to best compare these vendors' offerings. After all, not every vendor will come out of the gate with the same features and functions.

Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at

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