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LinkSys ships Linux-based 802.11n WAP

Apr 25, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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LinkSys is shipping a Linux-powered wireless access point (WAP) claimed to offer four times the range and 12 times the speed of WAPs based on 802.11a/b/g standards. The WRT300N is based on a draft 802.11n specification, and is the first in a forthcoming “Wireless-N” line, the company says.

(Click for slightly larger view of WRT300N)

The WRT300N appears to be the first product based on the draft 802.11n standard to reach market. The standard effort was spearheaded in 2004 by Intel (whitepaper), only to stall a year later due to dissenting factions, according to ABI research. Then, last October, a third group, the Enhanced Wireless Consortium, was created to break the stall, with 26 founding companies that included LinkSys.

The 802.11n draft standard implemented in the WRT300N uses a technique called “MIMO” (multiple input, multiple output). MIMO technology capable of 108Mbps was demonstrated nearly a year ago using Linux, by Cavium and Airgo. Airgo said at the time, “By leveraging multipath reflections of a radio signal, and transmitting multiple signals in a single 20MHz radio channel, Airgo's True MIMO multiplies both data rates and reliable coverage area without using additional frequency spectrum, and without causing interference with other Wi-Fi devices and networks.”

LinkSys says its Wireless-N products use multiple radios that simultaneously transmit “two streams of data over multiple channels.” This “effectively [creates] a 40MHz channel that doubles capacity,” it says.

LinkSys says that the 802.11n draft specification it implemented in the WRT300N requires backwards compatibility with 802.11b and 802.11g, and additionally requires that optimum speeds be maintained in mixed-mode environments. However, a recent WRT300N review at eWEEK.com suggests the company was only partially successful in achieving this requirement.

Additional WRT300N features include WPA (Wi-Fi protected access) security, a DHCP server, VPN pass-through, and an SPI (stateful packet inspection) firewall. The device includes the usual web browser configuration interface.

The company did not respond by publication time with further details on the WRT300N's embedded processor, memory, and Linux-based software stack.

Mike Wolf, principal analyst at ABI, stated, “The emergence of high-definition video, along with the growing use of Voice over IP, online gaming, and other applications by consumers requires network bandwidth that greatly exceeds what is available from 802.11g.”

Malachy Moynihan, VP of home networking at LinkSys, stated, “A substantial number of products for both homes and businesses will soon depend on compatibility with Wireless-N to reach their full potential. Because of the importance of the technology, we have taken the unique step of conducting extensive testing with multiple vendors to ensure that the greatest possible number of them will perform at peak levels when interacting with our 802.11n products.”

Availability

The WRT300N is available now, priced at $150. Also available is a compatible PCMCIA card with Windows drivers, the WPC300N, priced at $120. LinkSys did not respond by publication time to questions about forthcoming Linux drivers.


 
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