Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wireless Technology Is About to Take a Major Leap

Recently i have been lucky enough to be provided adequate resources to build out a wireless network for a couple of my schools. This is an exciting project both because of the educational opportunities that will arise due to the WIFI access, but also because of the burden of managing our current wireless network that will be relieved.

My exploration into wifi network designs has brought my attention to a number of vendors, products and designs. I am facinated with the soon to be ratified 802.11 N wireless network design. 802.11N offers bandwidth up to 600mbps with all the cards aligned perfectly. Well, that is not feasible now, there is confirmed data rates of 170mbps over wifi using this technology.

This sort of bandwidth is 70 mbps over a standard 100 mbps wired desktop LAN.  Without getting too technical, this now means that video, voice, and data exchange will be basically limitless over wifi. The wired network will be slowly eliminated allowing for simpler expansion and less costly expansion of clients.

There are of course a number of considerations to make when deploying a wireless N network currently:

  • Many wireless N AP's require more power than a standard POE switch now provides.

  • Can your network handle the increased bandwidth

  • When will it be formally ratified?

  • What is the cost of purchasing N clients now?

  • Can you find a product that will offer both G and N radios but be upgradeable to all N in the future to meet your current and future needs?

  • Will you need new cabling to support the N initiative (standard cat 5 will not provide the bandwidth. Cat 5e or 6 is requireed)

There are other concerns that need to be addressed. There are a number of resources online to assist with this research.

Having looked at all the information available, i have made the decision to wire my wifi network for 802.11N. I am excited about the what the future brings with this sort of bandwidth available wirelessly to our students.