Will 802.11g get off the ground?

Matthew Brown, technical director of Nelson network builder and leaser B&R Holdings, says there is talk in the industry that the emerging 802.11g wireless standard, which will allow wireless LANs a theoretical maximum speed of 54Mbit/s, will flop.

"People are saying 'what does it do that 802.11b doesn't?'"While its speed is much greater, many operators of wireless LANs have no need for the 11Mbit/s maximum offered by 802.11b, the most prevalent wireless LAN technology, let alone 54Mbit/s, and compatibility issues between 802.11b and a newer specification, 802.11a, may be less serious that they first appear.

The oft-touted advantage of 802.11g, which is yet to be ratified by the IEEE, is that because it will operate in the same 2.4GHz band as 802.11b, the most common present iteration of wireless LAN technology, an upgrade from 802.11b to 802.11g won't mean replacing existing hardware.

Because 802.11g is still a draft standard, no 802.11g equipment is yet available. The 802.11a standard, which also offers a maximum of 54Mbit/s, has some compatibility issues with 802.11b as it operates in the 5GHz space.

The incompatibility, however, can be circumvented by using adapter equipment from Cisco, NetGear and other manufacturers which allows 802.11b-a compatibility without wholesale hardware replacement.

NetGear was among exhibitors at the Tech Pacific Showcase in Auckland last week and interest in wireless LAN gear was high, the company says.

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