Duke Dukes It Out With Pre-Standard 802.11n

You may have seen the story about Duke University plans to cover its campus with a pre-standard 802.11n wireless network. Quoting its CIO: "We expect the campus-wide 802.11n wireless network to increasingly be the primary mode of connectivity for data access and mobility applications." This is a great example of an enterprise, implicitly embracing Nortel’s unwired enterprise vision.

The CIO of Duke went on to say that "Universities are an ideal testing ground for new technologies." So should you jump into pre-standard 11n testing ground to duke it out with this new technology?

Duke is one of the 1% of enterprises that are going with pre-standard 11n because they truly need the higher bandwidths and are willing to take the risk. They understand very well that they may have to upgrade or even replace 2500 access points, situated to provide needed coverage and often in hard to reach places (to avoid tempting students to snitch them for their own use!).

And it’s not just about 11n access points. While pre-standard adaptors exist, these are expensive for PCs, and don’t cover the need of mobile devices which today typically support 11a/b/g. A second major concern is that 802.11n access points require more power than allowed by the current PoE standard; the standard is not yet finalized and represents another possible upgrade requirement, this time in the wiring closet.

So you may want to wait for the 11n standard to be finalized and for fully interoperable product released.

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