Don't Be Wi-Fi Complacent
Remember the days when you didn't know a WLAN (wireless LAN) site survey from an AP (access point)? Perhaps the essentials of a successful WLAN deployment -- including conducting a site survey and using data and device encryption -- have become routine. Do you think it's time to put your WLAN training on autopilot, so you can leisurely navigate through the rest of the decade? If you find yourself taking that approach, I predict you'll be grounded before 2006.
There's a new standard that is going to change the WLAN landscape. If you miss the opportunity to learn about it now, you could be missing out big in the next couple of years.
Know The Benefits Of MIMO
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the standards body that created the current WLAN standards, will release the 802.11n standard by the end of next year. This new standard, which will be known as MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), will be a significant change over its predecessors. One of the first noticeable differences with MIMO wireless solutions is the multi-antenna look of the APs. Used to accommodate simultaneous signal transmissions and receptions, MIMO APs use a special signal processing technique to create a 3-D radio frequency transmission.
Computer and consumer electronics vendor Belkin (Compton, CA) and WLAN vendor SOHOware (Santa Clara, CA) released pre-802.11n MIMO APs in October 2004. Both companies, which offer their products through the channel, claim their APs can deliver a throughput of 108 Mbps, which is twice as much as a typical AP. "Since MIMO uses multiple antennas, the receive sensitivity is significantly higher than conventional APs, resulting in an extended coverage area," says C.T. Wu, CEO of SOHOware. Results from one of SOHOware's beta tests revealed that nine conventional APs could be replaced by two MIMO APs. One of the primary strengths of MIMO is that it optimizes multipath, which is the effect of radio signals reflecting off surfaces in the environment. Traditional AP performance is hampered by the same multipath effect because of its inability to process multiple signals simultaneously.
Don't Wait Until 2005 To Understand MIMO
With more than a year to go before the 802.11n standard becomes official, you may be tempted to wait awhile to see how things play out. With pre-802.11n APs shipping now and significant benefits already achieved, it would be unwise to get behind on the learning curve of this technology. You should be testing MIMO now and learning how to do site surveys with this new technology. MIMO vendors are looking for certification partners that know how to pitch and install their products. Do you think training and selling opportunities will be better now, or after the market is flooded with other VARs hoping for their piece of the action?
MIMO vendors like SOHOware are claiming that their products can reduce your customers' APs from nine to two right now. Plus, they are claiming that their MIMO APs eliminate the need for $15,000 to $25,000 wireless switches. You owe it to yourself to research and test this technology now, so that when the demand hits -- and you can bet it will hit -- you will be ready.