New Wi-Fi standard, 802.11n, nearing completion

According to Wired's website, the new standard for Wi-Fi is near completion and offering up to 600mbps promises lightning fast speeds along with a great deal of other bells and whistles.

Around half a decade's work has gone into this development, and the new standard '802.11n' is due to be released upon the world by September, nice and early for the Christmas rush. Often referred to as 'Wireless N' the new standard could offer not only the ability for a 600mbps transfer rate, but also will allow the ability of up to four simultaneous streams of high definition video, voice and data in households.

This may seem all numbers and gibberish, so we'll put it into perspective; the current standard is '802.11g' which only offers speeds up to 54mbps, great for most people but for those who have higher expectations the new standard is something which will be welcomed. For a few years now, manufacturers of networking technology have been developing products based on a draft version of the standard, but be warned these often only contain two or three channels to transfer data on and have substantial caps on the 600mbps which the new standard can provide.

One of the most important additions to the new 802.11n standard is the addition of a capability abbreviated to MIMO. Standing for Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output, it allows for multiple antennas to resolve information at a much faster pace than the 802.11g standard.

"So far we have had products based on the version of 802.11n that is fairly basic," says Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director for the W-Fi alliance. "Now we are likely to see more devices that have all the bells and whistles in place."

According to one of Wired's sources, the difference will certainly have a great impact upon the home network and suggests that the idea of this technology may have bred out of the need to stream video in double quick time, without having to wait: "Speed is everything and videos are the main driver for this technology, when you are home you want to get to YouTube fast and watch video and have a phone connection and surf."

"At the least we can get six times the speed of the current 802.11g standard, that means we can transmit high definition video across multiple rooms in a pretty large house with just one access point."
Mike Concannon, senior VP, Qualcomm.

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It is just more wireless garbage that will inevitably confuse more people and end of being useless. Stick to wired if at all possible.

djpailo said,
It is just more wireless garbage that will inevitably confuse more people and end of being useless. Stick to wired if at all possible.

How's it confusing?

virtorio said,
How's it confusing?

-I guarantee you if you take a survey nationwide in the US and UK that 75% of people will not understand how routers work. Many connections aren't even secured yet.

At any rate though the N finalized standard will bring some much needed improvement on the wireless side and I can't wait. I've been holding off on upgrading my home G network.

A variable that I haven't seen anyone bring up is that quite often in networking you can be limited still by your storage. This is especially true for Home Networking and desktop PCs. For example even if you can get a consistent and reliable 600mbps connection on the network side you won't likely be able to maintain that because of your storage subsystems on your network. This is often the same reason why people with 1 gigabit wired connections rarely get anywhere near 1 gigabit sustained transfers across the network because the hard drive can't keep up when it's doing multiple reads/writes simutaneously.

Pupdawg21, I would have to disagree with your comment. Unless I am simply misunderstand you, you are saying that a computer hard drive will be the bottleneck of the 802.11n capability. I would disagree due to that fact any computer made in the past 2-3 years has a 7200RPM SATA disk at 3/Gbps (That̢۪s a theoretic 300Mbytes per sec). Now given that the drive depends heavily on internal buffers and capability of the disk controller and other variables of the computer (Linux/UNIX or Windows, etc, Linux/UNIX handling disk I/O far better than Windows), I think its fair to say you will see a more realistic 100/Mbytes per sec) on a single disk. More if the disk(s) is in a RAID 0, 1, or 10 config which most desktop computers offer today. My point is that you will most likely hit the limits of the 802.11n and the forwarding rate of the network switch/router way before you hit the limit of the read/write speed of the disk. Keep in mind that most operating systems (especially Windows) cheat by writing/caching data to memory/RAM if the destination can̢۪t keep up. And I know you will hit the limits of 802.11n and the switch WAY before you hit the bandwidth of you DDR2 or 3 RAM.

I would agree with you that people seem to quickly get caught up in the specs of one device, when the capability of other devices has a direct impact on the new toy̢۪s ability to achieve its advertise result. I feel a lot of people are going to get disappointed when they bring home their new 802.11n toy and realize its not giving them the advertised result. They will then accuse the OEM of the AP and the OEM of their computer, and anyone else they can, as to why their AP isn̢۪t working right, when its most likely that old switch/router or some other component that is slowing down their 802.11n.

Aside from Gotenks98 who is apparently stuck in 1998, I'm glad a standard has been released. This is a good place to suggest NOT to buy Cisco Linksys wireless routers. Google the issues and I for one can confirm their 130n and 160n both drop connections several times an hour due to a DNS bug and they ignored customers througout only to release a patch that claimed fixed and did not. Too bad, such a good name to **** away on crap products.

I dont see the point in this. Hardly nothing will ever be able to use this kind of bandwidth at home. Personally I dont use wireless in the home. I just stick to my powerline setup as its been very realiable when wireless just didnt cut it.

Oh, please. The proposed speed is not 600mbps, not 320mbps, or 300MBPs.

m = milli = 1/1000
M = Mega = 1,000,000
b = bit
B = Byte, or 8 bits

We can be sloppy in ordinary conversation, but technical discussions demand accuracy.

I'd think that routers with the current wireless N would just need an upgrade as wireless N uses the 3 antennas which all drift models would already have, but the hardware might not be able to process all this quick enough.

Any benchmarks done on a final N spec yet? 600mbps is only theoretical and should only expect maybe 300mbps or less real world speeds from it, which isn't very good.

most 11n routers are singel band 2.4ghz, so basicly 300mbps, some are dual band 2.4+5ghz and is 600mbps
i hope they will make it that those routers with 600mbps can send on 2.4ghz band and receive at 5ghz band, why? faster! :p

atm 11n cards & routers 2.4/5ghz can only use one band not both

I sure hope someone will make an internal expresscard capable of connecting to an N network, would make me and my laptop soo much happier ^^

I cant help but look at this forum/blog and just smile as I see people getting excited for something that will improve the 802.11n operability and compatibility, but do very little to change the speeds they are seeing today. I think that some of you may want to go back and do some serious research on what 802.11n was created for and how it works.

The 802.11n standard offers and wider capacity for connection speeds, but not for a single connection. To keep it simple, your laptop or desktop computer will never reach a 600Mbps throughput, nor was the "N" standard meant for that. Apply what you know to the wireless technology and take a your best desktop computer or server with a 1000Mbps NIC inside and move a 5GB ISO image to another destination of equal capability. Make sure you are using a switch that has a forwarding rate of at least 90MB/s (Around $1000 or more), which most switches purchased at your local Bestbuy or Dell for $100-$300 max out around 10-20 MB/s. Most of you know you will be lucky to achieve a max throughput of 400-500 Mbps. For anyone who believes that a wireless connection will perform at the ability of a hardwire Ethernet connection....Your just fooling yourself. Think more down the line of 200Mbps top speeds "per connection" for your 802.11n, and this means you have one awesome computer and are standing 5 feet from your AP and have it operating with 40Mhz over 5Ghz.

802.11n offers and advertises 300 or 600 Mbps as its total bandwidth capacity across all connections depending on if your AP allows single band 20Mhz over 2.4Ghz or 20Mhz x 2 Multiplexed 40Mhz at 5Ghz. The AP has to sync each connection at 300 or 600 or less to quota itself. Just like a normal switch would have, say, 24 ports, each port with a top sync of 1000 Mbps, but you know you will never get 24,000 Mbps (or a forward rate of 240Mbytes per sec) through that switch. But the beautiful thing about 802.11n is something that was borrowed from some later generation 802.11g AP's...MIMO (Multi-In, Multi-Out). That fancy multiplexing allows each connection to have its own path to and from the AP. So, unlike older non-MIMO AP that shared the 54Mbps across all connections....802.11n gives each connections a dedicated pipeline. Kinda like Cable Broadband and DSL (Cable Broadband is shared and DSL is dedicated). So all though you will never get actual 600Mbps to your AP (more like 100-200), each client associated to the AP will have its own 100-200, UNTIL all connections hit the 300 or 600 capacity threshold. All the other features like PEAP, AES-256, Built-in Radius, Certificate support, more stable MIMO, etc.....Those are the things you should be happy to get....

And....it was mandated that any OEM that wished to have the certified 802.11N WIFI Alliance logo on their product must agree to allow that device to be software/firmware upgradable. So I would say you should get the update (even if it takes them a year), unless that OEM wants to get sued for false advertising.
If you care to know....I run a Cisco Aironet 1252 AP....

iirc current routers dont support 600Mbps.. I think they were 4x4 - 4 stream products where most these days are 2x2, 3x2 or 3x3

...and I just got an Airport Extreme Base Station a month back. Let's hope Apple can push a stable 7.4.3 or 8 firmware to get us the full 600mbps

Wow, FINALLY... I was wondering when they would finally finalize this... Now I can go ahead and plan to upgrade the office... Now just to find a goof router... LOL

Per Wiki, all certified past/present N products will work with the final draft.
"
Though not approved by the IEEE, since 2007[3] the Wi-Fi Alliance has been certifying interoperability of "draft N" products based on what was draft 2.0 of IEEE 802.11n specification. They have affirmed that all formerly certified products will remain compatible with the products conforming to the final standard.
"

RDX said,
Per Wiki, all certified past/present N products will work with the final draft.
"
Though not approved by the IEEE, since 2007[3] the Wi-Fi Alliance has been certifying interoperability of "draft N" products based on what was draft 2.0 of IEEE 802.11n specification. They have affirmed that all formerly certified products will remain compatible with the products conforming to the final standard.
"

Yes, but with these new features, the draft N stuff may operate with the final N standard, but will be missing those features, correct? As it sounds to be hardware related, I don't know that a software update would be able to provide these new features...

From what I read, it seems that current N devices will not get the new features that where implemented with the final draft. But you never know, some manufactures might of released devices with some of the hardware locked within the device until the protocol was finalized. But very unlikely knowing how greedy Cisco and all the rest are.

I'm still using my 4 (i think?) year old Linksys WRT54G with DD-WRT... I think I've rebooted the thing like a half dozen times in the 4 years? Can it get better than this?

Speed is everything and videos are the main driver for this technology, when you are home you want to get to YouTube fast and watch video and have a phone connection and surf.

i thought youtube was really more dependent on your internet connection than your LAN... at 600mbps i am thinking its more to do with streaming things like bluray videos just like you could stream mp3's around the house now?

I guess that's a good thing. Unfortunately, I shelled out a fair bit of cash for the D-Link GamerLounge DGL-4500. Oh well! It's still a good router, even if it's only supports a draft of 802.11n.

All these people moaning about firmware upgrades! Do you really think something you bought over 2yrs ago is going to be upgradeable to the latest iteration? You always take a hit as an early adopter. You knew it was draft when you bought it, so quit moaning and either make do with what you've got or wait until its fully ratified and purchase the final product. I've been stuck with G waiting for the day N became fully ratified and all devices equal, seems to take forever.

Draft-N is garbage the way it is now anyway. I've tried multiple routers/card combos and can never connect solidly over G speeds. I really can't wait until it's final.

ive been getting crazy speeds through my N connection
but i remember at college, it was hit or miss if youd get past G speeds using their N
and it was always random who did get a good speed

Neoauld said,
ive been getting crazy speeds through my N connection
but i remember at college, it was hit or miss if youd get past G speeds using their N
and it was always random who did get a good speed

Yeah it seems to be really picky on what type of card/router you have.

Obviously I Internet won't use anywhere near 600mbps cus it roughly translates into around 60MBps. Fastest broadband in uk is 50mbps which is like 5MB or so max speed.

The wireless N increases range which is important because if signal degrades through Walls having a high throughput with range will help to get your wireless connection to real world maximum speeds. Also there will be low cost wireless devices released running off a wireless connection running to multiple TVs around the house, more efficient than wires so yis true

Don't just assume that the only bandwidth on your network is your internet. Homes are starting to fill with all sorts of media devices capable of sharing streams of video and music with each other, for that you need lots of bandwidth.

While this sounds quite amazing, broadband in big cities can be pretty slow most of the time. I am excited that it will be the new standard but I am hoping the service speeds will compliment the router capabilities. At the very least network based transfers will be much speedier. Good news!

So here's the ultimate $100 question : Will existing routers be able to upgrade to this, or do we need to purchase new ones?

Wait! Don't answer... I'll go down to the bank now.

I'd say with the exception of the high end models, I'd say no they won't be upgradable. The same will probably apply to laptops/desktops with wireless draft N cards, you'll probably need need to replace your draft N hardware to get N. This is to be expected, it was the risk we all took buying draft N hardware, it was made clear it wasn't finished. Once again it's the price of early adoption sadly.

Will routers and devices every transfer anything NEAR 600Mbps? I mean, I know 802.11g was rated at 54Mbps and you would consider 22Mbps to be a "good connection", but on my Apple Time Capsule (2008) and my MacBook Pro (Late 2006), I'm lucky to hit 70-80Mbps real world on whatever speed they advertise to get you to buy the damn thing. I know you'll never hit the theoretical limit, but it's just like selling a car that has 200MPH on the speedometer, but regardless of how hard you press the gas pedal won't go over 80MPH. Simply misleading!

Well wireless got to deal with lots of overheard and encryption in each packet sent, so the full rate includes all that, you end up with much less.

But 600Mbps will do nicely.

dagamer34 said,
Will routers and devices every transfer anything NEAR 600Mbps?

Yeah, when they're in the same room, next to each other. How is it going to get 600Mbps in the real world when Draft-N struggled with 300?

Oh so can't wait to upgrade to N, have been holding off as the changes "upgrades" have been negatable IMO, with the draft N hardware out there. Will definitely be upgrading to this when available

cerealfreak said,
Oh so can't wait to upgrade to N, have been holding off as the changes "upgrades" have been negatable IMO, with the draft N hardware out there. Will definitely be upgrading to this when available :)

You mean negligible not negatable right? Anyhow, how can you say the difference between draft-n and anything lower is negligible? G is 54mbps, even Draft-N is 300mbps given ideal conditions. The range is also much improved. Hardly negligible.

If anything I'm sure the finalised standards changes over the drafts will be negligible and anyone with good draft gear will be sitting pretty.

-Dave- said,
most draft N routers are only 300MBPs, not 600

i wonder if a firmware update bring that up to 600 or will we need new hardware
im running a Dlink DGL-4500 atm

Kushan said,
Probably a bit of both. I'd imagine most routers wont be capable of the full whack, but some might.

I think only a few are capable of 600mpbs actually.

I don't think manufacturer's will be busy releasing firmware updates. Instead, they will roll over new or updated revision of products. Bad for us with Draft-N routers, but I don't think we'll see many updates once the standard is published.

ajua said,
I think only a few are capable of 600mpbs actually.

I don't think manufacturer's will be busy releasing firmware updates. Instead, they will roll over new or updated revision of products. Bad for us with Draft-N routers, but I don't think we'll see many updates once the standard is published.

Maybe projects like DD-WRT and Tomato can help. I hope DD-WRT can upgrade my Linksys WRT-300N in a few years.

I doubt it. If they can't hit those speeds it's probably because of the hardware....otherwise they would have released it at that speed most likely already.

The draft version yes, but please re-read the article, the draft versions are incomplete and don't have all the features the full standard will have.

"So far we have had products based on the version of 802.11n that is fairly basic," says Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director for the W-Fi alliance. "Now we are likely to see more devices that have all the bells and whistles in place."