January 23, 2007
The eye-triple-e recently took another baby step toward ratifying the 802.11n standard, which is said to be finalized by this summer. I say, "So what?"C'mon, people. Do we have to think that hard about it?
DSL broadband provides speeds between 384kbps and 1.5Mbps. Cable broadband speeds rank at 784kbps to 10 Mbps. T1 lines rate at 1.544Mbps. T3 lines pull down up to 45Mbps. Only Fiber goes beyond that, with Verizon offering consumers a 30Mbps package, and enterprise customers up to 100Mpbs. Any way you slice, the speed at which you can browse the Internet wirelessly is strapped down by the speed of your hardwired broadband connection. And if you can't tell from the figures above, most people are only capable at browsing in the 1.5 - 5Mbps range. Even 802.11b, which has speeds up to 11Mbps, is sufficient for that. 802.11g, which blasts bits up to 54Mbps is great, but there's no way for anyone to notice the difference in their surfing speeds. 802.11n, the latest in the alphabet soup of standards to come from the IEEE, will be able to snag files from the Internet and download them at (real-world) speeds of up to 100Mbps. Great. That's freaking cool. Too bad my broadband connection is only 5Mbps. The only foreseeable benefit of 802.11n is the capacity it can handle. Because of its multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) antenna arrays, it will be able to better manage more computers connecting to it and because of the added antennas and receivers, will have better range. This efficiency is great, but it won't be any faster for the end user.
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