One Way To Get Past Slow WiFi Standards Processes: Guarantee You'll Upgrade Hardware

from the nice-move dept

We've discussed repeatedly some of the problems facing various standards bodies, especially when it comes to wireless technologies, where internal bickering, fights over patents and companies releasing incompatible "pre-standard" versions tend to fragment and slow down a market, rather than move it forward. This has been true for the next generation of WiFi (802.11n) as well, with various people recommending that buyers ignore the so-called "pre-n" equipment. Glenn Fleishman is pointing out that vendor ASUS has announced today a way around this stalemate: a promise to upgrade any equipment bought this year to the final standard. This is a smart move. Historically, companies often say that they'll upgrade the firmware, but they can't guarantee the hardware will be compatible with the final standard (though, it may well be). However, by guaranteeing that they'll upgrade the hardware as well, it takes most of the worries out of the upgrade issue. While it may still be a pain to upgrade the equipment, ASUS is making it as simple as possible. As Glenn notes, it seems quite likely that other vendors are going to need to follow suit, and that could help jumpstart the market for next generation WiFi equipment, even before the standard is set -- but without many of the downsides of pre-standard adoption.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2006 @ 11:26pm

    n-band bandwidth

    I know this might be a bit off topic, but it is about the n-band wifi standard...

    I know it's always good to be prepared for the future (I don't want to be Bill Gates and saying "People will only ever need 6xxkb of ram"), who knows, in 4 or 5 years, cable could be perceived to be as slow as dialup is today if everybody replaces their cable lines with low-cost fiber - but until those 5 years are up, I see most people being on cable.

    Now, since my cable line advertised speed is only about 5 or 6 mbs (I've heard of some people having advertised rates of around 20 mbs in other parts of the US and Canada). Current standard/non-suped-up g-band wifi runs about 54 mbs, correct? So just how much of a difference will n-band make for most people? I can see it having great use in airports and other open-wifi spots with tons of people on and industrial grade T1 or higher connections - but why should I go buy a $50 to 100 router when I my connection isn't even anywhere near that speed?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Eldin, 3 Oct 2006 @ 11:38pm

      Re: n-band bandwidth

      Fiber Isn't cheap by any means...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chris, 3 Oct 2006 @ 11:47pm

      Re: n-band bandwidth

      1st commenter, I'm glad you brought that up. It's an issue that a lot of people don't understand, and are therefore duped into buying things they don't need.

      The fact is, whether you use 802.11a, b, g, or even n, will have no impact whatsoever on your internet speed (at least, in a typical home setup). Even consumer broadband connections don't come anywhere near the speeds of a wireless network. What you will improve is your wLAN speed, that is, the bandwidth you have between your computer and other computers on your local network. This isn't important for people who only want to access the internet over their wireless connection, but if you're like me and tranfer lots of files between computers on your local network, only then will you see the benefits of things like 802.11n.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        todd, 4 Oct 2006 @ 6:10am

        Re: Re: n-band bandwidth

        to add a bit more detail in response to teh 1st commenter. 802.11x standards have a significant amount of error correction built in. This means that even if there is significant amount of data loss between the router and laptop (or whatever 2 devices), you the user will not notice any data loss because the standard is able to recreate the loss bits.

        For this reason the actual throuput of an 802.11g connection is approx. 25Mbps when the two devices are very close and no other interference. Move the device to the outer reaches of the router and the speed will quickly drop off.

        For a college dorm room or small apartment the 802.11n advantage probably isn't worth it, but in a larger house when the signal has to passs through several walls, or a public building or business who wants to have high speed for a lot of users in a large area the advances in 802.11n can be realized.

        Personally I don't see a reason to upgrade from g to pre-n. If you aren't upgrading, but just need to buy a new router/card and enjoy beingan early-adopter and are ok if the device isn't exactly plug-n-play, buying pre-n could be fun.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DoubleU, 4 Oct 2006 @ 2:26am

    To #1 and #3

    Chris is correct, this is only usefull for LAN use.
    I can't wait for this to be released so that I can stream movies/mp3 from my file server to a media center in the living room, with no cables attached.

    And although the promise of ASUS is a nice one, I will hold off till .11n is a standard.
    I been bitten once by a pre-g wireless card that stopped working with a new wireless router I bought using the official g standard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris2, 4 Oct 2006 @ 3:51am

    Agreed, Internet speeds are not affected by the previous standards of Wireless. However, if you are using Wireless Internet connections, the types of hotspots that are popping up everywhere currently, this may be the starting point to where Wireless Internet can compete with cabled Internet.

    More importantly, this may be the direction to providing a large area at higher than cable speeds for a smaller cost than rolling out fibre.

    I personally wouldn't buy into it until both the standard has been finalised and there are is a second revision of the hardware. First revisions always have those bugs that they just didn't think to iron out in the first place (Too many fools I know bought NB5 ADSL modems... Too many fools I know had hardware that froze because of heat issues).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DoxAvg, 4 Oct 2006 @ 3:55am

    Failure of the standards bodies

    The pre-g and pre-h brouhahae are indications that the standards bodies are no longer serving the market in a positive way. The rules of order have been compromised to allow a minority to derail and filibuster the progress of the group to protect their embedded market share.

    Mike's analysis is fundamentally correct that the way to move the market forward is to do exactly what ASUS is doing. ASUS isn't selling just the chipset and antenna, but they're selling confidence - confidence that you don't need to worry about it when it actually gets ratified. That has a tangible value in the market, and if the other players don't adopt the same strategy, they'll be left in the dust.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ed, 4 Oct 2006 @ 11:50am

    Think Antennas!!!

    May be the most important on wireless are the antennas. And, I don't knnow why, people don't realize that.

    I totaly agree with Todd, 802.11 g sucks. They don't give us the real 54 Mbps anyway. I don't think that the new "n" wil do it either.

    For sure, you can improve a lot your wireless device's range and throuput simply replacing the original one with a simple, homemade, cheap antenna.

    I've done it at my home, where the Dlink shows to be a a very bad router. The link come down frequently and works so slow that it became impossible to transfer files without problems.

    Two connectors, 2 feets of RG 59 cable and a pice of wire well assembled following tips found on Web and my signla grows up to normal and no more breacks, and so on.

    Some Universities have documents showing that is possible, with the right antenna, connect two devisces with sight up 2 miles way. 2 miles with "G" routers.

    So, "N" can wait, at least, until we can use a little more the "d" and "g" models potential.

    I hope this can help u all to don't waste your money to do thing u are able to do with your actual devicxes.

    Regards, Ed

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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