My tests of the $150 Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router and $100 Wireless Notebook Network Card, released last month, bore out some preconceptions I had going into the tests: The products are not yet enterprise-ready—but man, are they fast.
Belkin partnered with Airgo Networks to provide the first product Ive seen based on MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology. MIMO provides greater bandwidth and distance coverage without relying on the channel bonding techniques that can clutter the airwaves in the 2.4GHz band.
Using multiple transmitting and receiving antennas, the Pre-N Router provides better listening capabilities for devices at long range, and it efficiently takes advantage of multipath propagation to transmit more data simultaneously.
In tests of the card and the router, I saw throughput numbers topping out above 40M bps at medium distances (30 feet) and was able to achieve a strong connection (more than 9M bps) everywhere on our office floor using a single access point, something Ive never been close to achieving with another product.
Unfortunately, the device simply isnt designed for enterprise use. Although the unit supports WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) with a preshared key, the Pre-N Router does not support 802.1x and therefore will not support user-level authentication. Also, the Web-based configuration screens are not encrypted using HTTPS (HTTP Secure), and the Web screen offers a startling amount of data about the device before the user ever logs in.
In addition, enterprises probably will not want to deploy the card to all workstations, given the preponderance of devices that come with wireless by default nowadays.
Its worth noting that Pre-N Router and Notebook Network Card devices will work independently of one another, although not at such a high performance rate. Using the Intel 2200BG adapter that came with my Dell Latitude D505 laptop, I never achieved throughput greater than 20M bps, although the coverage for long distances was still quite good.
For more information, check out www.belkin.com.