Netgear preps for 802.11n

Netgear has announced that it is shipping the ‘world’s first’ wireless-enabled ADSL2+ modem router based on the draft 802.11n specification.

Netgear preps for 802.11n

The box combines a next-generation broadband modem with a four-port Ethernet 10/100 switch, a double SPI and NAT firewall with Netgear’s draft 11n-compliant RangeMax NEXT wireless LAN technology. In theory, 802.11n is capable of providing wireless speeds up to 540Mbps, ten times the limit of the 802.11g standard widely deployed today, and over greater distances.

ADSL2+ services are beginning to proliferate in the UK offering broadband speeds of up to 22Mbps but the 802.11n wireless standard has yet to be approved. The IEEE Working Group accepted the Draft 1.0 proposal in March but has since had to plough through 12,000 comments on the proposal, six times the expected number.

That raises the prospect that the final standard may not be exactly the same as the 1.0 draft that the Netgear device is based on.

Wi-Fi Net News, for example, warns that it is possible that devices bought now may not be compatible with the finished standard.

‘Because none of the manufacturers shipping Draft N devices will guarantee that their shipping equipment will be upgradable for full functionality and Wi-Fi certified interoperability to the final, ratified version of Draft N, this is yet another sign that buying Draft N equipment right now is senseless,’ it says.

However Netgear expects the Draft 1.0 proposal to be ratified, though not until 2007, and is working with the IEEE and Wi-Fi Alliance to ensure that 802.11n devices will interoperate with 802.11b/g devices at the highest speeds without degrading the performance of neighbouring wireless networks.

‘Netgear has again proven itself an innovator by becoming the first vendor to ship a wireless-enabled ADSL2+ router that incorporates the performance benefits delivered by the draft 11n specification,’ said Prasad Shroff, product line manager. ‘This all-in-one product enables users to create a network infrastructure suitable for the growing variety of bandwidth-intensive applications in the home and office.’

These include HD video streaming, music downloads, and Internet gaming.

Broadcom, which supplies the 802.11n chipset that Netgear is using, also has faith in Draft 1.0.

‘The industry has come to an agreement on the components that will make up 802.11n, a new WLAN standard that promises both higher data rates and increased reliability, and the IEEE standards-setting body is ironing out the final details,’ it said. ‘Though the specification is not expected to be finalised before 2007, the draft is proving to be reasonably stable as it progresses through the formal IEEE review process.’

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