[nSLUG] Wireless Router

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Sun Mar 14 16:33:16 ADT 2010

On Sun, Mar 14, 2010 at 3:14 PM, Stephen Gregory <nslug at kernelpanic.ca> wrote:

> Daniel Morrison wrote:
>> On 14 March 2010 07:03, George N. White III <gnwiii at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> 802.11n is backwards compatible with b and g.
>> Is this true? I don't think a literal interpretation of that sentence
>> is correct.
>> Most 802.11n devices also have 802.11b/g capabilties.
> I believe that 802.11n required that b/g/a compatibility mode be
> present, but the mode can be turned off.
> 802.11n is a bit of a mess. There are quite a few optional features,
> including the features that make 802.11n faster then 802.11g. It is
> optional if the devices operates in 2.4Ghz, 5Ghz, or both. MIMO is
> optional. I believe using the larger 40Mhz channels (vs 20Mhz) is
> optional. The end result is that two 802.11n devices could have vastly
> different performance and still be fully compliant with the spec.
> 802.11n was only finalized in October 2009 and most devices on the
> market are really only Draft-N.

My understanding is that the changes from "Draft-N" to the final spec
were very minor, but vendors often include bugs in the first iteration, so
some "Draft-N" devices need new firmware to work properly.

The mess comes about a) because backwards compatibility has to be
supported, and b) because some things that make 802.11n more robust
aren't cheap to implement, and vendors know there are certain price
points (e.g., they want to offer <$100 consumer models).

> I would not pay much extra for an 802.11n router over an 802.11g router
> today. Unless you read the specs carefully an 802.11n device may not be
> any faster then 802.11g.

I did pay significantly more for my 802.11n routers than for my 802.11bg
model.  The results have been well worth the extra cost for me, particularly
since 802.11bg was erratic here.   For me it is less a case of speed that
having reliable connections.   802.11bg was like most people's expectations
for wireless -- some days it worked, some days there were frequent dropped
connections and waits to renegotiate.  802.11n has been like having real
wires without the risk of  some dog getting tangled in a drop cable and
literally pulling the plug.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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