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Informer’s news: Ruckus boasts of super-fast WLAN

Ruckus Wireless claimed Monday it will demonstrate the first 802.11n WLAN router at next year’s CES, to be held in Las Vegas from the 8th of January.

The wireless firm said the “Smart WiFi” product is intended to carry high-quality music or video streams around your home.

IEEE standard 802.11n is the latest iteration of the 802.11 wireless-Ethernet technology we know and love as WiFi or WLAN, depending on relative geekhood and associated acronym tolerance. It includes a MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) antenna, which is meant to help it reach a theoretical maximum data rate of 70Mbits/s.

As with all theoretical maxima, especially ones in press releases, this should be treated with scepticism.

Unfortunately, whatever Ruckus or anyone else claims, the product that goes on sale at CES won’t be an “802.11n device”. This is because the IEEE working group hasn’t finished the 802.11n specifications yet, so it remains possible that future 802.11n equipment won’t be compatible with it.

That hasn’t stopped several manufacturers from boasting of their “802.11n” products – Ruckus certainly isn’t the first to use the term in promotional material. In fact, some products that have been put on the market as “pre-802.11n” or similar have turned out to be dramatically incompatible with each other and earlier iterations of WLAN.

Simply, if you put one in a room and switched it on, it would unintentionally jam any other WLAN in range.

What Ruckus probably means is that the new product is designed on the basis of the 802.11n draft spec as it stands now. Most of the other devices that claimed to contain 802.11n technology were essentially 802.11b/g gadgets with some form of MIMO antenna and alterations to the firmware, which probably explains the trouble.

The Informer’s: A Week in Wireless appears every Friday.

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