Fact, Fiction And Advertising In The Numbers

from the up-to dept

A long time ago technology marketers figured out that many people buying their products don’t really understand them – but they do understand that “bigger number” usually should mean “better”. Thus, bigger numbers were touted, even if they weren’t realistic. That’s why we’ve got 17 inch monitors with 15 inch “viewable area”. That’s why wireless carriers kept promoting their data services as being “up to” 144 kbps when you were likely to get 50 kbps on a good day. Now, the latest complaint is with the numbers used for 802.11g WiFi products. Of course, the 802.11g is supposed to be 54 Mbits/sec – but in the cold light of reality, no one is going to get that sort of speed. While the writer admits that everyone expects some loss due to “overhead”, you might be surprised at how much. In testing 802.11g products, he couldn’t get any more than 15 Mbits/sec which is less than a third the advertised speed. He called up a bunch of vendors, and they kind of shrug off the issue, either denying that it’s misleading or giving a “yes, but…” type of answer. Of course, he doesn’t even get to the biggest joke in all of this: most people buying 802.11g equipment are going home and hooking it up to their cable or DSL modems that throttle down any throughput to a tiny fraction of what the router can handle.

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