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Multimode products emerge

Jun 18, 20032 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork Security

* Multimode clients ease infrastructure decisions

Last time, I discussed infrastructure strategies for a multimode 802.11b/a/g environment. A combination of G/A access points provides the maximum number of nonoverlapping channels. The more channels you have available, the better able you are to build a wireless network without interference, because re-used channels can be much farther apart.

One word of caution: Given the inconsistent use of the 5 GHz spectrum band worldwide at this juncture, certain 802.11a products have been designed to work only in certain 5 GHz bands. Before deploying 802.11a, you should check that the band(s) you intend to use matches the band(s) supported by your vendor.

Now, what about clients?

The recent birth of tri-mode client support from companies such as chipmaker Atheros Communications means that adapter cards will soon become happily AP-agnostic and infrastructure selection worries will become minimal, if not altogether moot. Clients that support all three standards will associate with the strongest signal and the fastest speed available wherever the user happens to be. So client decisions are basically decoupled from AP decisions.

Eventually, clients will also support one or more cellular protocols. As a result, if no wireless LAN connection is available to a business traveler who is, however, within range of a General Packet Radio Service, Code Division Multiple Access-based 1XRTT, or other 2.5G or 3G service, a connection could be secured using the lower-speed (but more ubiquitous) WAN service.

So we’ll soon have universally usable clients, and the world will be perfect, right?

Well…work is afoot to boost the performance of existing APs. This is a good thing, but means that the math you are using for site surveys today could become obsolete, in that you might need far fewer, yet higher-performing APs.

We’ll save that discussion for another newsletter. However, if you are attending the 802.11 Planet show in Boston June 25-27, we’ll be discussing these performance-boosting forthcoming technologies at a panel session called “Wi-Fi on Steroids.” I’d encourage you to attend and hear about them straight from the horses’ mouths; a.k.a., Airgo Networks, Extricom and SmartPackets.