Belkin release draft 802.11n gear



May 1st, 2006

Today Belkin have entered the uncertain waters of draft-802.11n gear and announced their N1 wireless line of equipment. 

The N1 range currently consists of:

  • Router (F5D8231-4)
    $149.99
    Router (F5D8231-4)
  • Notebook card (F5D8011)
    $99.99
    Notebook Card (F5D8011)
  • Desktop card (F5D8001)
    $119.99
    Desktop Card (F5D8001)

To come in Q3 of this year is a USB adaptor card (F5D8051).

On paper this gear sounds great (up to 300Mbps, increased coverage, backward compatible with 802.11b/g) but none of it makes up for the gear being based on a draft specification.  Like Ed Bott said last week, networks are complicated enough without adding in gear that is based on a draft.  I have no doubt that this gear will sell, and sell well (after all, everyone wants more speed and coverage) but I can see a lot of trouble ahead for early adopters. 

If you do want to experience 802.11n, then my recommendation is that:

  • You buy all your gear (router, desktop cards and notebook cards) from the same manufacturer.  This will help minimize compatibility issues
  • You upgrade your firmware and drivers regularly to patch up bugs and security issues
  • Don't deploy a draft 802.11n network anywhere that's mission-critical, because you might be without a network
  • You remember that backward-compatibility on paper is different to real-life backward-compatibility
  • Expect trouble.  Lots of trouble!

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