Multiple Choice: Is 802.11 a, b or g the best Wireless LAN for your Enterprise Handheld?
(Or is it n, for none of the above?)
We believe the answer is n, as in 802.11n – let me explain.
Wireless LANs are everywhere – at the office, at home, at school, at the ball park, in restaurants, at the airport and now even on the airplane. The wireless networks that we take for granted today have their roots in the early 90’s, when wireless connections were designed for single peripheral devices to send and receive computer data. They're a far cry from today’s wireless networks, which facilitate web surfing on handheld devices at Starbucks. Over time, the IEEE 802.11 standard has evolved with advancements in Wi-Fi technology and changing market requirements.
802.11n is the next evolution of Wi-Fi technology. IEEE has defined this standard to deliver an exponential improvement in both performance and reliability for mobile devices. For these reasons, Socket has decided to implement 802.11n in our new enterprise handheld, the SoMo 655.
Benefits of 802.11n
The signature performance metric of 802.11n is data transmission speed of up to 600 Mbps, which is more than 10 times faster than 802.11a or g and about 55 times faster than 802.11b. Many users cannot achieve this performance due to legacy equipment, but having 802.11n devices is good to ensure you're not impeding network performance due to technology. So even if performance is not an explicit requirement for your Mobile Enterprise Handheld, upgrading to 802.11n will help prevent routine data collection and order taking transactions from slowing down your network.
Besides performance, 802.11n also delivers better reliability and predictability to Wi-Fi networks. Multiple antennas and advanced signal processing capabilities (all part of the 801.11n standard) provide longer operational range and more predictable Wi-Fi coverage. So just substituting 802.11n Access Points for b or g will improve wireless coverage without pulling new wire.
Although 802.11n has primarily been designed to increase performance, it also provides technical benefits for wireless networking such as backwards compatibility (including a, b, and g support) and longer battery life, which is on the top of the list for most Mobile Enterprise users.
Preliminary Test Results
Our early testing of the new SoMo 655 (with 802.11b/g/n) shows the following improvements when compared with the SoMo 650 (with 802.11b/g):
- 35% better throughput
- 23% greater range
- 15% lower power consumption
- Tips on how to set up an 802.11n network: http://wirelesslanprofessionals.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Quick-Dirty-802.11n-Design.pdf
- Chart showing the evolution of the 802.11 standard: http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lx89cx1YvS1qg8x9go1_500.jpg
- White Paper: Enhanced Wi-Fi Companion software for the SoMo 650: http://www.socketmobile.com/pdf/techbrief/e-WFC_white-paper.pdf