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802.11n: A Major Step Forward for Mobility

September 18, 2009 - 1 Comment

Smart antenna technology, the foundation of the 802.11n 2.0 draft standard, has been utilized for decades by the military. But when applying this technology to enterprise and consumer grade APs, it’s not as simple as bolting a smart antenna onto existing WiFi access points due to the requirement for tight integration between the RF and baseband sections in the upfront design and standards process.  While you’d have to be an antenna connoisseur to appreciate the differences between beamforming and the various flavors of Multiple-in-Multiple-out (MIMO) algorithms, we can all benefit from the time and effort that companies like Cisco have invested over the last 7 years to get this technology embedded into currently-shipping products. So the recent ratification of 802.11n as a full fledged standard that is completely compatible with already-deployed 802.11n 2.0 draft-certified devices, is worth a tip of the hat to all those who helped make it happen.  802.11n is a key wireless technology that is significantly improving the performance and reliability of the user experience.


While at an MSO show in Colorado a few weeks ago, I was demonstrating the capabilities of high definition video over 802.11n. One of the graphs I used during the demo pointed out that HD video only utilizes 3% of the available 802.11n bandwidth; the obvious point being that the pending ratification of 802.11n will be a significant leap forward in closing the gap between the user experience of wired and wireless (wired experience using wireless network thanks to 11.n).  For those interested in the more details about the 802.11n  standard, take a look at the following white paper:
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  1. This is truly a major development in Wifi space. The directional antenna used for MIMO will allow for better path diversity which in turn provides greater signal quality and channel utilization. Additionally the mobile node can leverage the improved direction and location awareness abilities to achieve improved power management.