September 13, 2010, 9:16 AM — The rapid adoption of IEEE 802.11n as the Wi-Fi standard is transforming the wireless experience for users, and the enterprise network. Here's a round up of the news, issues, trends, and information you can use for keeping up with the fast-changing Wi-Fi world. (See 802.11n reshaping Wi-Fi experience.)
[Don't forget to sign up for our twice-weekly "Wireless Alert" newsletter, by Joanie Wexler. You can see recent topics and easily register online.]
Our timeline of 11n's development gives a quick overview of some of the key milestones. And we've tracked the deployment and evolution of the first large-scale 11n deployment (based on the then-draft standard): a campus-wide network at Morrisville State College in upstate New York, using gear from Meru Networks.
In fall 2008, Network World Clear Choice Tester David Newman put a handful of 11n access points under the gun. (See "802.11n gear 10 times faster than current Wi-Fi offerings.") There have been a lot of product changes since then, but Newman's thorough approach to the test, and its scale, still is a valuable guide to what to look for, what to look out for, and what to consider in evaluating and buying an 11n WLAN.
[ See also: Getting the most from 802.11n ]>
The improved throughput and signal quality of 11n compared to 11g and 11a is changing user expectations and IT thinking in early adopters such as colleges and universities and in healthcare. Increasingly, 11n is now accepted as the primary medium for network access; and as such, it's causing IT to rethink Ethernet wiring plans and purchases. See in our 2010 "Back to School" tech projects story, see the section titled "802.11n and all-wireless access."
And answer for yourself the question we posed in our 2009 "Burning Questions for Mobile & Wireless" - "Is it time to cut the Ethernet access cable?"