By Carol Ellison  |  Posted 2004-12-27 Print this article Print

-Fi Stretches"> Were also seeing some serious movement to stretch Wi-Fi boundaries. Work is moving ahead within standards-setting organizations on specifications that will redefine what high-bandwidth, high-speed, area-wide Wi-Fi solutions will look like. A new high-speed standard—802.11n—is being hammered out by IEEE task groups. And theres the continuing development of the 802.16 WiMax standard. By some estimates, were not likely to see the official 802.11n specification emerge from the IEEE until 2006. That organizations task group has just begun sifting through the four complete proposals and 28 partial proposals it received.
But one common element in most of the proposals for the new standard—designed to push throughput to at least 100M bps and maybe as high as 500M bps—is MIMO (multiple input/multiple output) technology.
Click here to read more about the 802.11n specification. MIMO itself is not new. It was pioneered by Airgo Networks and exists in the companys True MIMO chip set, which began finding its way into products this fall. If you want a glimpse of what it offers, check out Belkin Corp.s "pre-n" router, which uses Airgos True MIMO chip set. And given the strength of the Belkin products early reviews, expect to see more of these devices move into the market before the specification is ratified. Enterprises and small businesses, be warned: Anything "pre" standard is, by definition, proprietary and likely wont be interoperable with future products that implement the finished standard. Other standards-based, high-throughput options will become available in 2005 as products based on Broadcoms Broad Range technology make a market appearance. The chip set combines a bit of something old and something new to boost range and performance on Wi-Fi networks that use current technology. Based on the current 802.11g standard, the chip set promises throughput that is high enough to take on pre-n products. And then theres WiMax. The phrase here is: Stay tuned. WiMax generated a lot of excitement in the industry, not to mention ink in the computer press, in 2004. Much of it had to do with Intels heavy involvement in developing the technology. The 802.16a specification for fixed WiMax operation is official, but its not likely to gain steam until next year, when the IEEE is expected to come forth with a mobile WiMax standard. Promising? Sure. But theres still speculation about whether WiMax will come in with a bang as some analysts believe, or with a whimper as others will tell you. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.

Carol Ellison is editor of eWEEK.com's Mobile & Wireless Topic Center. She has authored whitepapers on wireless computing (two on network security–,Securing Wi-Fi Wireless Networks with Today's Technologies, Wi-Fi Protected Access: Strong, Standards-based Interoperable Security for Today's Wi-Fi Networks, and Wi-Fi Public Access: Enabling the future with public wireless networks.

Ms. Ellison served in senior and executive editorial positions for Ziff Davis Media and CMP Media. As an executive editor at Ziff Davis Media, she launched the networking track of The IT Insider Series, a newsletter/conference/Web site offering targeted to chief information officers and corporate directors of information technology. As senior editor at CMP Media's VARBusiness, she launched the Web site, VARBusiness University, an online professional resource center for value-added resellers of information technology.

Ms. Ellison has chaired numerous industry panels and has been quoted as a networking and educational technology expert in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CNN Headline News, WNBC and CNN/FN, as well as local and regional Comcast and Cablevision reports. Her articles have appeared in most major hi-tech publications and numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel