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Upgrading Wi-Fi — What, When, and Why

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the still-no-macbook-support dept.

206

lessthan0 writes "Wi-Fi (802.11x) networks have been around long enough that many businesses and home users run their own. The first widely deployed standard was 802.11b, while most new hardware uses 802.11g. The latest 802.11n hardware is just around the corner. If you run an existing wireless network, is it time to upgrade?"

cancel ×

206 comments

Shouldn't it read... (4, Funny)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 7 years ago | (#15943982)

Upgrading Wi-Fi: What, When, and Wi?

Re:Shouldn't it read... (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944164)

It should read "move on, nothing to see here ..." since you can't upgrade to something that isn't available yet.

Besides, why would you want to upgrade when nobody can use it? Wait until its been out a few years.

After all, gigbit ethernet has been out for a couple of years now, and look at how many people get along just fine with 100mb.

Re:Shouldn't it read... (4, Insightful)

lcohiomatty86 (985176) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944332)

most people get along just fine with 100mb because 1. the internet is the primary use of the network.. which comes nowhere near 100mb of bandwith.. and im sure gigabit is pretty widely used in very high bandwith environments.. its just.. why use a more expensive technology when there is no need for it (as in most home and small office environments)

Re:Shouldn't it read... (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944369)

Well, gigabit ethernet is no longer "much more expensive." I saw a 5-port gigabit switch at a retailer yesterday for under $12/port. Cards are equally cheap. The problem is that for most users, they won't notice the difference, or they'd have to change the cabling fro cat5 to cat6, or they have one or more boxes that are still runing 100mb, so there is zero point in upgrading.

Give it 5 years ...

Re:Shouldn't it read... (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944495)

If you run GE to the desktop, what do you use for your trunk links?

Just askin'...

Time Machine anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15944367)

Wouldn't Leopard's Time Machine feature benefit from a much faster and more secure WiFi network?
Beats the hell out of carrying a Firewire external drive dangling from your PowerBook all over the house.

Just around the corner (5, Insightful)

Reducer2001 (197985) | more than 7 years ago | (#15943984)

The summary says that 802.11n is just around this corner...what about this article [slashdot.org] yesterday that says it's been delayed to 2008?????

Re:Just around the corner (0, Offtopic)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 7 years ago | (#15943989)

What? You expect the editors to read their own site? You must be new here.

Re:Just around the corner (-1, Offtopic)

debilo (612116) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944035)

What? You expect the editors to read their own site? You must be new here.

This site has editors? I must be new here.

Re:Just around the corner (1)

joconor (889441) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944117)

The article said 'n' was just around the corner. It didn't say how far away that corner is.

Re:Just around the corner (3, Insightful)

Derlum (216320) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944249)

More troubling is this:

Both 802.11b and 802.11g use the 2.4 Megahertz frequency...
The 802.11a standard runs at 5 Megahertz...

Either the author is running equipment that's operating ridiculously out of frequency spec, or he's woefully unfamiliar with SI unit prefixes. I'm betting the latter.

Re:Just around the corner (3, Insightful)

ryanduff (948159) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944415)

Well Vista has been "just around the corner" since 2002 and we haven't seen that yet.

Unfortunately, it seems everything in the technology world is "just around the corner."

I'm still baffled as to how people can buy something that isn't fully standarized. You know its going to change. Its like shelling out cash for a beta program. Would you buy a development model car with a 6 cylinder engine that curently only runs on 4 cylinders? No!

Re:Just around the corner (1)

nuckin futs (574289) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944722)

they're on Vista time. :)

No, its not time to upgrade. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15943991)

Even 802.11b is still faster than the DSL or cable connections that these places use.

Re:No, its not time to upgrade. (4, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#15943997)

Not if you have more than one user. Hint: think about wifi deployed at a school or airport...

As for the general question, the answer is: Upgrade if you have to. If your users are bitching that the net is too slow, upgrade.

If you just want to be hip and spout the latest and greatest ... wait for n.

Tom

Re:No, its not time to upgrade. (2, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944007)

If your users are bitching that the net is too slow, upgrade.

Or, you could just allow standard port access and remove all the crap, its a wireless web interface not a bittorrent seeding point.
(Note, I'm talking about public shared access connections, what you do with your home connection is up to you)

Re:No, its not time to upgrade. (4, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944042)

No, if your users are bitching that the net is too slow then you should schedule a three day long upgrade window during their peak usage times, wander around the site changing all of the patch cables on the access points from blue to yellow, and then turn it back on again five days later without changing anything else.

They'll be raving about the increased speed for at least a week and then forget that anything ever happened.

Re:No, its not time to upgrade. (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944224)

Evil, truly evil genius type thinking there! You get to keep your BOFH badge another week.
Congrat's on that lofty acomplishment! ;)

Re:No, its not time to upgrade. (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944288)

My god, you went to my school!!!

Don't forget the gold plated wall jacks [only 25% of which are allowed to work].

I was the type of person to bring an AP with me. Screw the lousy 802.11b. So I brought a bg with me. Plugged it into the ethernet jacks and gave all the people around me decent network access. Loads of fun.

Tom

Re:No, its not time to upgrade. (1)

slughead (592713) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944006)

Even 802.11b is still faster than the DSL or cable connections that these places use.

For downloading, maybe, however I find that there's much higher packet loss and ping while using wireless... it's not a big deal for web browsing, but gaming is pretty annoying.

Re:No, its not time to upgrade. (0)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944010)

Ping? Are you thinking of latency, perchance?

Re:No, its not time to upgrade. (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944442)

Ping time is latency, dolt.

Re:No, its not time to upgrade. (1)

compwizrd (166184) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944146)

Standard cable around here is 10mbit, and for 25 more a month i can get 16mbit.

Re:No, its not time to upgrade. (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944263)

Also you don't actually get 11Mb/s out of an 11b network - I usually get less than 5Mb/s (which is the speed of my ADSL line), so for me I think it is time to upgrade.

Depends (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15943994)

Obviously that depends on what you need the wireless LAN for. If your applications work with 802.11b, why would you upgrade? If you want to do something which needs more bandwidth, then upgrade. Duh.

Re:Depends (3, Informative)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944078)

Mod up!

The only reason I can think to upgrade is for better encryption and range.

if it ain't broke, don't fix it (5, Informative)

loonicks (807801) | more than 7 years ago | (#15943995)

If 802.11b/g works for me, why would I upgrade? Don't be a consumer whore just because some shiny new wireless protocol comes out... stick with what you have unless it sucks.

Re:if it ain't broke, don't fix it (2, Insightful)

debilo (612116) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944067)

If 802.11b/g works for me, why would I upgrade? Don't be a consumer whore just because some shiny new wireless protocol comes out... stick with what you have unless it sucks.

Most comments seem to indicate upgrading is useless because speed improvements don't matter as long as the slowest wifi protocol is still faster than your internet connection, but speed is not the only concern. Future protocols are said to offer better/easier security and more reliabality, which if true is a good enough reason to me to upgrade.

Re:if it ain't broke, don't fix it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15944094)

The point still stands: If the security/speed/range you have is enough for you, then there is no need to upgrade. If you want or need to do something that requires an improvement of your wireless network, then it is time to upgrade. Better systems will always be around the corner. If you buy right after new tech has arrived, you get to pay the early adopter premium, find the bugs and occasionally bet on the wrong horse. If you buy when a technology has had its quirks ironed out, chances are there will soon be something new and better on the market which devalues your new acquisition. If you always wait because there's going to be a better time to buy, you'll save a lot of money, but you'll also forever be without a WLAN network. IOW: If you need it and can afford it, buy it. If you don't need it or can't afford it, don't buy it. Duh.

I installed b in '00 or '01 and just upgraded to g (3, Insightful)

the_quark (101253) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944345)

I had one of the first in-home 802.11b networks. I plunked down like $700 for a Cisco WAP back in 2000 or 2001 because I had a really challenging home network solution that would've cost a lot more than that to run wiring where I needed it. The WAP kept chugging along - those old Cisco units were really reliable - and I finally retired it about a month ago.

My DSL is (supposedly) 6Mbps downstream, so I could've justified it just on that grounds. My wireless was definitely slower than my network connection. But, at the end of the day, the fact that I process video and (now very large RAW) pictures on my laptop caused me to pull the trigger. After I'm done processing, I generally want to copy my files up to a server for backup. On a recent trip, I shot 8 GB of photos. Copying that on b would take about 18 hours. Copying it on g would take about 20 minutes. Obviously, even bigger video files would be worse.

As for security - I certainly don't trust ANY wireless (or wired, for that matter) system for security. I depend on application level security whenever I can get it (SSL, SSH) and VPNs when that's not an option. It's hard for me to imagine upgrading to g or n just for security - anything that does need to be secure in my world already is. Trusting ANY network is a good way to get caught with your pants down.

So, don't dismiss the performance gains from b to g. I increased my Internet download speed from 1Mbps to 6Mbps, and that was certainly worth the (compared to 2001) cheap cost of my new WAP. Even if your Internet connection is 1Mbps or slower, you may still have significant benefits if you copy large files around inside your network.

Re:I installed b in '00 or '01 and just upgraded t (3, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944657)

As for security - I certainly don't trust ANY wireless (or wired, for that matter) system for security. I depend on application level security whenever I can get it (SSL, SSH) and VPNs when that's not an option.

Properly configured WPA and WPA2 are just as secure as your application-level security or VPN (and more secure than some crappy VPNs). Although the weakness of WEP was a major problem, its failure ensured that its successors would get very heavy scrutiny, and the WPA variants have stood up very well. If you really want to be careful, use both wireless network security and end-to-end security. If you don't need to be that paranoid, WPA is just as good as and more convenient than using a home VPN.

OTOH, if you're like me, I like to leave my WLAN open so that passersby can use it if they need it. I appreciate all of the open WLANs I make use of, so I like to return the favor. In that case, a VPN is critical.

Re:if it ain't broke, don't fix it (4, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944103)

My understanding is that "n" provides longer range and better link stability. I think that might be a reason to upgrade. If you move files a lot between local computers, the speed might help too.

That said, given that there isn't a finalized standard, I think it may generally be best to hold off on upgrades. If you need speed for your local network and can't wait, then buy matched sets of network devices, then for elsewhere, you can fall back to b/g which should be a lot more than enough for Internet stuff.

Re:if it ain't broke, don't fix it (1)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944130)

802.11n promises 100MBit/s+ speeds... bringing it up to 100baseT Ethernet speeds. This is a big reason to upgrade. But I agree, if b/g works for you, then don't bother upgrading.

Im waiting for 802.11'o' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15944158)

'n' is for sissys.

Re:if it ain't broke, don't fix it (2, Informative)

jerryasher (151512) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944329)

Wifi is broken, at least for apartment dwellers. Qwest gives out dsl routers with built-in wifi, which means that EVERY apartment now runs its own wifi on the few channels that there are. As a result, wifi is completely unreliable as channel interference occurs. Oh you can connect, but how long until you are knocked off?

Re:if it ain't broke, don't fix it (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944381)

Well, if you attach a television tower to your access hub, the question is, do you think you can go mano-a-mano with 50 angry neighbors?

I'll let you know next week.

Re:if it ain't broke, don't fix it (1)

jerryasher (151512) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944404)

Googling "small low-powered directional EMP generator for use in apartment dwellings" did little for me.

Re:if it ain't broke, don't fix it (2, Interesting)

mkraft (200694) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944704)

Do what I did. Just log into their routers (since most people don't turn on encryption or even change the default password) and change all the channels. Now everyone else will conflict, but you'll have a channel all to yourself. :)

There are other things to upgrade, anyhow (1)

smartfart (215944) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944652)

Want a faster network? Run your own DNS and webcache, your users will notice the difference. Throw in SMTP and anyhing else you can pull off, too.

Or.. (0)

Data Link Layer (743774) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944002)

Why upgrade at all? Unless you can really use the extra speed of 802.11g because you have an insane internet speed it's just a waste. Transferring files across the LAN non stop is probably very rare for most users. I'm not even using wireless at all on my network, it would be a lot of money for almost no benefit. If I need an extra 100m of cat5 or get a laptop then maybe I'll go wireless but really, it's not needed.

Re:Or.. (1)

GotenXiao (863190) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944098)

Transferring files? Listening to MP3s. I get skipping all the time, either with NFS or SMB.
VNC? X11? Does no one use anything remotely high bandwidth? How about streaming DVDs? No?

Re:Or.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15944532)

Ive done it, streaming video over 802.11g is hell.

Re:Or.. (4, Informative)

portmapper (991533) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944140)

> Why upgrade at all? Unless you can really use the extra speed of 802.11g because you have an
> insane internet speed it's just a waste.

Many places there are quite simply too many nearby using 802.11b/g along with wireless
phones on the same frequency. It is too crowded.

"Upgrading" to 802.11a (different frequencies used than 802.11b/g) will help as there generally
are far fewer 802.11a users. The range may not be the same, though.

Time to upgrade? (3, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944011)

It will be "time to upgrade" when the card manufacturers start being able to tell me which device to buy reliably for linux installations.

I have *never* been able to find an 802.11g PCI card that I could put on a purchase order by vendor and part number. The few devices I have found (b and g) that worked, have been changed by the vendors into incompatable devices without notice.

The linux wi-fi community routinely points questions on this matter to a compatability chart that doesn't answer the question. I know about NDISWrapper. I know to avoid Broadcom chips. That knowledge helps for my personal computing, but it doesn't help when the professional task involves making a purchase order for a device that can be reliably, consistently obtained, or even identified.

On the end of the spectrum we'd like to be on, several competing vendors would warranty the merchandise as being compatable with linux, and would provide source-code compatable drivers (for kernel independence). We're at the extreme far other end of that spectrum, as far as I can tell.

Re:Time to upgrade? (2, Informative)

IBeatUpNerds (827376) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944577)

My company works in software for embedded wifi devices and we routinely need to buy specific hardware.
I/we have never had a problem finding what we were looking for and the vast majority of it works
great with Linux (WPA, WPA2 + RADIUS). We've achieved this by purchasing products we've used before
and are familiar with. Aside from a couple obvious examples, most vendors remain relatively consistent
if you're referring to the correct product + hw_rev + version. Not sure what your problem is....

Now if your argument is that no reasonable source or technical documentation is available to the general
public for the guts of these devices, I'd agree.

no it is not. (4, Interesting)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944017)

for me anyway.
I have 3 problems with WiFi.
1) Too many people near by with WiFi makes the connectivity suck within my apartment(have tried many channels). How about a new system where base units can figure out the best configuration when there are others nearby and even change them when the radio pattern(/coverage) changes.
2) My existing devices are not compatible with "New" security standards, fx. Ipaq and wpa2. For every WiFi enabled unit you buy, you have the problem of not being able to upgrade your security unless all devices support it.
3) My HP notebook drops connection when a cellphone is used in my apartment.

There are so many things that can break my WiFi net that I still prefer to use cables. Thought about getting a Squeezebox with WiFi, but I think I might as well save the money and just use cable.

Re:no it is not. (2, Informative)

Sancho (17056) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944100)

1) Would be really nice, though I wonder if 802.11n will trounce all over the entire spectrum that 802.11b uses.

2) This is not true. Aside from high-end units that are out of most consumer's price range, there is an Asus WAP that can broadcast multiple SSIDs and have separate security settings for each. In theory, this would mean you could have WPA-Radius encryption on one SSID and have a WEP encryption SSID for your Nintendo DS. I think the model is WL-500g Deluxe--it's hard to come by right now.

Re:no it is not. (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944448)

2) This is not true. Aside from high-end units that are out of most consumer's price range, there is an Asus WAP that can broadcast multiple SSIDs and have separate security settings for each. In theory, this would mean you could have WPA-Radius encryption on one SSID and have a WEP encryption SSID for your Nintendo DS. I think the model is WL-500g Deluxe--it's hard to come by right now.

What about a hacked Linksys WRT54G/GL? Running open Linux, I suspect that the firmware can be made to go darn near anything within reason. SSIDs and crypto aren't built into hardware - they're software-controlled.

-b.

Re:no it is not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15944175)

How about a new system where base units can figure out the best configuration when there are others nearby and even change them when the radio pattern(/coverage) changes.

Dude, are you crazy? Then everybody would get an equally small share of the bandwidth. As it is most base stations sit on channel 6 or 11, because those are the most common default channels. Nobody uses 1. Let the idiots jam eachother on the fixed defaults.

Quality and coolness (2, Interesting)

massysett (910130) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944461)

How good is your router? I have found that the quality of your networking equipment can make a huge difference. I too live in an apartment building with lots of nearby access points--at night if I sit by my window I can catch at least ten signals. I used to have a POS Netgear router that would drop the connection repeatedly. Then I got the DLink DGL 4300, and this thing is rock solid. Drops maybe once a month.

Keeping the equipment cool also matters. For awhile I had the DGL 4300 on the floor, on its side, behind my PC, near the case and power supply exhaust fans. In the summer it sure gets hot back there, and my connection would drop quite a bit. I moved the router so it's on top of my case, and now the performance is rock solid.

All routers are not of the same quality. (I could say the same of cable modems, but that's another story entirely.) Cheap networking equipment does not pay. Make sure you have a good router and WiFi can work well even in tough circumstances.

Re:no it is not. (1)

IBeatUpNerds (827376) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944615)

Regarding your points: #1, this is fascinating. In my office, where we develop wifi devices, there are routinely 50-60 APs on the 11g/11b spectrum. Rarely do I see interference related problems that break things. RTS/CTS takes a touch longer, but things still work great. WPA handshakes happen quickly enough even in this totally saturated environment. #2 - Unless you have a very, very old piece of hardware in your laptop, it should only be a software upgrade. Assuming, of course, your AP implements new standards. #3 - WTF kind of cell phone do you have that's operating in the 2.4ghz range???

Damnit... (1)

hyynes (942212) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944022)

Yeah, I'm not happy with the pushback to 2008 either. I still run an 802.11b network guys, n needs to come and save me. I've had experience with 104mbps g, but it sucks.

I can't upgrade (1)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944027)

Not until Linux (the kernel) supports the new cards and authentication schemes. So ask in another year.

Is it time to upgrade? No. (0)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944032)


I'm still using a "1b" router and can't see that changing for a long while. Since my internet connection is far less than 10Mb ( max speed of "1b" ), there's simply no point in upgrading. Until my cable company provides higher broadband speed access than that, I'll keep this router.

Mind you, I'm sure my Linksys router will crap out before I can attach a higher broadband connection to it, so I probably will upgrade sooner than later. But that's a rant for another thread!

Re:Is it time to upgrade? No. (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944236)

I generally agree with you, but consider this:

You have a media server or a file server that really doesn't depend on the internet at all.

About a year and a half ago I upgraded from B to G and, while that's still not good enough for wireless video, I saw a significant speed jump in backing up my files, transfering files from one machine to another, etc.

You may not think that it's even worth taking file and media servers into consideration, but their use is increasing.

Sometimes connectivity is all you need (3, Interesting)

Bald Wookie (18771) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944034)

I don't expect a lot from wireless. It's sort of like plugging a wonky network cable into a hub. You're connected to the network, but everything is delivered at 'best effort' or worse. Most of the time, that's really all that you need.

Can I open a web page? Check.
Send an email? Check.
VNC into a box? With some patience, check.
SSH into a device? Check.
IM? Check.
Can I do 95% of what I do at work over a wireless connection? Check.

The other five percent? I'm hoping for Gig-E because I'm using all of it.

The key is having realistic expectations of wireless. If your users don't understand that then they'll probably be disappointed with whatever you rollout.

Re:Sometimes connectivity is all you need (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944071)

To me that is circular reasoning: "wireless is good enough, because it's only used for light duty, because it isn't very good."

Even at home, I find 802.11g to be better than 802.11b. In particular for streaming video, which is handy if I want to watch a show on my laptop while doing dishes. IMHO wireless is not "good enough" until wires are obsolete.

Re:Sometimes connectivity is all you need (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944674)

IMHO wireless is not "good enough" until wires are obsolete.

By that standard, wireless will never be good enough.

The best security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15944047)

802.11a/b/g Best security buy 802.11g with WPA2

The best security is not to rely on WEP or WPA of any version by itself. While using ssh (secure shell) is great, Windows PCs are notoriously open and emit enough to get you hacked. But rely on an access point that can do VPN or IPSEC and block all other activity. Although I would enable WEP, WPA or most desirable WPA2 if it were there, it only keeps 14 year olds out. But add VPN or IPSEC and it can also keep the pro's out when configured properly. So I would rewrite above:

802.11a/b/g Best security buy 802.11g with WPA2 *and* VPN or IPSEC.

Re:The best security (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944056)

So what's wrong with WPA Enterprise using EAP-TLS and AES encryption?

Re:The best security (1)

dieman (4814) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944177)

EAP-TLS is a PITA to support, mostly because you'd have to implement PKI to deploy it. EAP-TTLS (in case you misspelled it) is terrible to support because you'll have to deploy a supplicant to all users before they can connect. Due to Microsoft (and the inability of the IETF and IEEE to declare one EAP type as requried that doesn't suck) if you are implementing WPA, you'll be support EAP-PEAP/MSCHAPv2. I'm not happy about it, but this doesn't require installing insane 3rd party apps into windows that you hope will work through future updates and other crap. OSX works with it fine. And NetworkManager with wpa_supplicant also works with it fine.

WPA with AES is pretty good (2, Informative)

Bishop (4500) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944638)

WPA with AES can keep out all but the NSA and even they will have trouble with it. The trick is to choose a strong PSK or use certificates.

For those who don't know: WPA (1/2, tkip, AES) in pre-shared key mode is vulnerable to a brute force attack. The four packet authentication sequence can be captured and brute force attacked offline. There are WPA rainbow tables based on dictionary words "in the wild." A long multi word passphrase with some numbers should be sufficient. A 63 character string of upper and lower case letters, and numbers is best. Unfortunately many access point web interfaces do not handle special characters and punctuation well.

You can generate a longer psk with:
$dd if=/dev/random bs=1024 count=5 | tr -dc [:alnum:]
it is a pain in the ass to manage though. :-)

What kind of question is this? (2, Informative)

JayDiggity (70168) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944059)

If you are on 802.11b and are happy with the speed it provides, then stay with what you have. If you're unhappy with it, upgrade to 802.11g.
If you are are unhappy with 802.11g, well, tough luck: as someone else already mentioned, 802.11n isn't coming out until 2008. Start punching holes in the wall and running some Ethernet cable!

Problem solved.

Re:What kind of question is this? (2, Insightful)

portmapper (991533) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944153)

> If you are on 802.11b and are happy with the speed it provides, then stay with what you have.
> If you're unhappy with it, upgrade to 802.11g. If you are are unhappy with 802.11g, well, tough
> luck: as someone else already mentioned, 802.11n isn't coming out until 2008.

802.11a is generally much less crowded than 802.11 b/g and as fast as 802.11g. Wireless
in a crowded area can suck quite bad.

Re:What kind of question is this? (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944465)

802.11a is generally much less crowded than 802.11 b/g and as fast as 802.11g.

Also, you don't get cross-interference from 2.4GHz-band phones and microwave ovens. Did I mention that 2.4GHz microwaves are probably the worst for health, since the resonant frequency of water molecules is about 2.4...?

-b.

Speed vs. Bandwidth (2, Interesting)

JPFitting (990912) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944065)

Does it really matter how much bandwidth one needs in terms of consumers? I would rather see improvments be made on how far the signal goes rather than how much it can handle. It never really mattered to me whether I had a B or G router as I only had a few computers using the internet at once. Granted, once FIOS is more widely used in the States the amount of bandwidth will have more of an effect.

Re:Speed vs. Bandwidth (1)

runningduck (810975) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944472)

I would much rather see more channels, better channel seperation, and increased reliability than distance or speed. It is currently impossible to implement a clean 'B/G' network in a multi-story building. 'A' with its 8 channels is just bearly tollerable.

When to upgrade? (1)

Name Anonymous (850635) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944077)

In my case, it will be as hardware gets replaced. Either when the hardware dies or needs replacement because it can't do it's job anymore.

The wireless base will most likely get replaced when it dies. The laptop will get replaced when my needs outweight it's capabilities.

I upgraded from 802.11b to 802.11g when my wireless base died. At that point my laptop already had 802.11g capability.

802.11n is not around the corner. 2nd vote Jan-07 (1)

cpatil (955342) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944082)

FYI, IEEE is still debating on 802.11n. The second vote is scheduled in Jan-2007 [networkworld.com] .

Re:802.11n is not around the corner. 2nd vote Jan- (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944183)

So true. 802.11n has been "just around the corner" for years and will continue to be so for the next few years. 802.11b/g fullfills user demands and performs acceptably for now.

-Rick

saturation (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15944086)

Other posters have addressed the compatibility and security issues, and I agree with them. No one has addressed the issue of bandwith saturation and new deployment.

Take a look at your bandwidth utilization. If you are using less than 50% what would be the point of doubling your LAN speed? If you are using over 80% then I would think about upgrading to whatever suits the situation.

Another issue is getting a new machine and placing it on your LAN. Can you still easily and cheaply get ahold of an 802.11b/g? Can you get one from the same manufacturer (if you only have to support one manufacturer then you only have to remember one set of oddities)? While this may seem pointless at the moment for WiFi, I when throught these same questions when upgrading my personal LAN from AUI to 10baseT.

Find real reasons to upgrade or not -- but remember somtimes you just need to get one to "check out" ;-) We boys just LOVE our toys!

How about eliminating 802.11x (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15944101)

and switching to the better standard, 802.16x? 802.16x has better range and bandwith than 802.11x so why not use WiMAX to replace Wi-Fi?

Only after the 802.11n spec is ratified (4, Informative)

cyclocommuter (762131) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944115)

Reading articles about 802.11n, there seems to be no compeling reason to upgrade to this draft specification for most folks right now... Poor interoperability with other "n" devices, poor backward compatibility with both "b" and "g" devices, more expensive hardware, and buggy firmware. The bottomline is, upgrading to 802.11n today means you are willing to be a beta tester for the hardware manufacturers.

The conventional wisdom says: (4, Informative)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944119)

1. If you buy 802.11n products, your AP needs to have easy firmware updates, because there is no standard, and you WILL want to update the firmware when the standard is ratified plus three months, meaning the summer of 2008.

2. 802.11n is faster than 802.11a,b, and g. But you need to buy everything from the same vendor, because that'll ensure it works together as compatibility is iffy. You can't do as nifty antenna tricks with 802.11n as you can with b and g. The 802.11a rules in the US currently prohibit antenna tricks. So, flexibility with standards means 802.11g.

3. If you use any 802.11 product, use WPA, or upgrade to it, and keep checking for firmware upgrades every few months, then do it.

4. Currently, the fastest *standardized* method is 802.11g. There are various turbo modes that may or may not allow you faster downloads, but most APs are inhibited by upstream throttle-back anyway. And for this reason, you might like it for home use but don't use it on mobile machines as hotspots sometimes have trouble with cards that are in 'auto-turbo' mode.

5. Unless you have backhaul that's faster than the WiFi transport, it's useless to buy anything faster because it will make no difference in speed. If you have a crappy DSL connection, the speed will still be crappy DSL speed. It's nice to have your WiFi router speed as the fastest common denominator because DSL and cable and other transports keep getting faster and faster. If you have asymetrical backhaul, that won't change no matter what you do (example: 3MB/s down, 750KB/s up).

WPA secures at minimum. Using AES with TLS is thought to be the most solid method. Having a temporal key is important as key life had a bearing on breaking the key. Currently, no one will sit around and wait for long keys to be broken unless THEY REALLY WANT YOU. If they do, they'll do something smarter. All WEP can be broken in under 22minutes, period.

For better paranoia, read WiFoo-- currently the most interesting hacker cookbook I've found.

Re:The conventional wisdom says: (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944455)

You can't do as nifty antenna tricks with 802.11n as you can with b and g. The 802.11a rules in the US currently prohibit antenna tricks.

Just because it's nominally illegal doesn't mean it's impossible. And if you're not in a populated area and don't aim a 5kw cantenna at low-flying aircraft, you'll likely be fine. If a bear shits in the woods...

-b.

Yah, like the old CB Radio kilowatt linear..... (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944493)

Some people need more current and voltage.

Other people use clever designs.

That's how the 120mi+ Defcon 13 was done. Not with current, but with legal antennas.

It's like nuclear weapons: you don't have to be very accurate. However, with single xray pulse, knowing the right spot can be very effective.

Re:The conventional wisdom says: (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944485)

3. If you use any 802.11 product, use WPA, or upgrade to it, and keep checking for firmware upgrades every few months, then do it.

Or tunnel all of your traffic via VPN and set the networked computers to only accept connections from VPNed computers on the local subnet. That way, passers-by will still be able to jump on your WiFi whenever they need a 'net connection without the risk of compromising your network!

-b.

Slashdot has come to this? (0, Flamebait)

kawika (87069) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944122)

What next? "Is it time to wash your car? With all the sludge and dirt on the roads these days, cars get a lot of grime on them. When is the right time to was your car, and what should you use?"

I know I'd never see something this lame on Reddit or Digg.

Re:Slashdot has come to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15944547)

"I know I'd never see something this lame on Reddit or Digg."
Let's take a look at some of the most popular stories on Digg today:
  • Revealed: world's oldest computer
  • Huge List of Python Tutorials
  • Digg Card, Get your digg profile on your site
  • Does Google mean resistance is futile
  • Old records go in, CDs come out
  • Behind the scenes: Firefox Crop Circle
  • The FIRST keynote of Steve Jobs 1984 - a Legend!
  • What does your browser reveal about your personality
  • The Genius of Digg.
  • This train is delayed until Windows reboots
  • The top 10 most beautiful cellphones
  • ScrapeTorrent
  • Google To Pay Freight for Number 2 Linux Guy
  • I stole your bandwidth/images and now I believe I can sue you
  • Awesome Site: Create Your Own Font!
  • Worst cars ever made
  • Beautiful subways from around the world (cool pics)
  • My Yacht Is Bigger Than Yours
I'm convinced that people that read Digg are simply really fucking stupid and have incredibly low standards. The "wisdom of crowds" is a nice concept, but when the crowd is full of idiots wisdom is about the last thing that's going to emerge. Do you also watch MTV?

Why go wireless? (0, Troll)

slugstone (307678) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944198)

I fine that I do not need wireless stuff. Just drag a network cable around the house. I do not have to worry about stuff in the walls hindering my connection. I will stack my 10Mbit network against your wireless network any day.

PS. I also do not have to worry about the wife sniffing my pr()n. :-D

Re:Why go wireless? (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944378)

Shouldn't that be pr(;)n?

Its not an improvement (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944213)

...until we have a greater bandwidth (LOTS of channels) of a microscopic slice of the microwave spectrum. And use frequency hopping.

Why are free channels on the radio spectrum so scarce?

What's with the numbers? (1)

friley (639858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944216)

Am I the only one that has a problem with the author's download rates? He says he's getting 2.3Mbps with 802.11g vs. 5Mbps with 100BaseT for an internet download. He obviously needs to look at his wireless setup. I can copy files around on my internal g network at 16Mbps, and that's going through one wall and several of my neighbors running 802.11g. The wireless is way faster than my 6Mbps internet link.

Re:What's with the numbers? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944445)

It doe seem a bit unusual. I get about 2.3MB/s on my 802.11g WLAN, and so I could believe that he just got bits and bytes confused. Except that he claims to get 2Mb/s for 802.11b, which can't be a typo since 2MB/s would be faster than the theoretical maximum for 802.11b.

I get 500KB/s (4000Kb/s) downloads from the Internet over my 802.11g link (almost twice his speed), and the bottleneck there is my external connection. It sounds like his local connection has some issues..

Re:What's with the numbers? (1)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944451)

I have a 17MB file on my Mac somewhere and let me tell you, ...

Cross platform security password compatability? (1, Interesting)

jelton (513109) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944221)

Do the upcoming offerings provide working cross-platform hashing algorithms? Meaning, if I have a LinkSys/Netgear/Foo 802.11x router, will I be able to use the password I entered or will I have to type out an increasingly lengthy hexadecimal equivalent on my MacBook? Try explaining to Mom why, after setting the cat's name as the password on the wireless router, they can't type that in when the system asks for the network password.

Fix this stuff first, then get the speed and latency stuff worked out. Sheesh!

Wi-Fi is major pain in the a*** (1)

steincastle (995168) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944223)

Signal is constatly changing, link quality is going from 60% to zero (even as people move around). Security issues. The only upgrade to Wi-Fi is good old gigabit ethernet period.

Possible pedantry alert. (1)

JKConsult (598845) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944255)

"Wi-Fi (802.11x) networks

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but you can't use 802.11x to describe a bunch of different 802.11 protocols. I've recently rejoined the tech field (University HD) while I return to school, and we are rolling out 802.11x authentication support. When "802.11x support" was first mentioned to me, I asked "We already use b & g, so don't we already support 802.11x?" and was summarily pointed to about a billion articles on 802.11x.

Re:Possible pedantry alert. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15944312)

802.11 or 802.11x represents 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, etc.
802.1x is Network Access Control used for authentication

No (3, Informative)

dcam (615646) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944264)

No it is not time to upgrade.

At the moment the 802.11n standard is at draft 2 stage. The 802.11n gear available now is based on 802.11n draft 1.

The manufacturers of this hardware are betting that any changes in the spec between draft 1 and the final version can be fixed by a firmware upgrade. It is by no means certain that this will be the case.

In addition, it isn't clear whether hardware for the 802.11n draft from different manufacturers will work together.

So the answer (as with most technology) is to wait and see. In this case, given that this is based on a draft, that has been superceded, waiting is certianly a good idea.

Good Basic Info for Newbies (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944298)

Somewhat interesting, but very basic and commonsense. Good for the newbie, not much use for others.

I bought a N router the other day (1)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944338)

I went shopping for a new wireless router the other day , and 3 or the four manufacturers had N draft 1.0 units out. The one that wasn't had one that was labeled 802.11g MIMO, and cost the same as the others.

I understand N draft 1.0 was formally rejected a few months ago, but it seems the manufacturers aren't paying a lot of attention.

Assuming the various N draft 1.0 products can actually talk to each other we may have the new standard already without meaning to.

NO IT IS NOT TIME !!!! (1)

MilesNaismith (951682) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944366)

UPGRADE IF YOU HAVE MONEY TO BURN AND NO BRAINS. The "pre" versions out right now are buggy, and you will have to do it all over again when the real stuff gets finalized. The only point to this is if you are a moran who feels they must stay on the bleeding edge.

Local Video serving might push home use (1)

Wry Cooter (899317) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944449)

If there is a driving force for getting home WiFi systems on a faster standard, it will probably be video streaming.

As others have said, why go faster than the slowest bottleneck, unless you are serving higher bandwidth than your web connection anyway.

Public WiFi space, may update sooner due to number of users.

i would upgrade for the security (4, Informative)

atarione (601740) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944510)

if I didn't have VPN over wifi thanx to m0n0wall and my RADIUS server...... as such I guess I will wait for N assume my trusty BEFW11S4 (b router) dosn't crap out.

if anyone is thinking of going G the WRT54GL [amazon.com] with the dd-wrt [dd-wrt.com] firmware is pretty sweet.

whatever you do DO NOT buy a WRT54GS or later model WRT54G models..as they suck pretty much http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WRT54G [wikipedia.org]

When all of the new hardware I buy supports it... (3, Insightful)

WimBo (124634) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944569)

When 802.11b first became standardized I bought a PCMCIA card for my laptop and a base station.

My next laptop had 802.11b built in.

My next laptop had 802.11a/b/g built in.

I'm still using the 802.11b bridge that I originally bought. I'll get a new base station eventually, but there's not any hurry, since the bottleneck out of my apartment is the 1.5Mb DSL line, and the 11Mb WiFi is just fine.

I especially don't see the need to buy some add in card for my laptop that may hang out the side and cause other problems.

So what is everyone using to bridge Giga networks (1)

Browzer (17971) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944584)

over short distances (15-20 feet) when running cables is not an option?

linksys (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944668)

It's too bad the original WRT54G is not available. I had to replace my wap because the old trendnet was not able to mac filter and I had a couple neighbors that I wanted to give access to but the entire neighborhood was apparently interested. (can you say.. slow internet? six of them were active on bittorrent all the time!)

I had a bit of a fight with the new 54g I just got. It decided to stop allowing me into the admin menu. 25 minutes on the phone with some gal (in India, of course) and we finally got it fixed. Required a firmware upgrade and repeated reboots and resets to finally clear it out where we could get in and get mac filtering working properly.

But yes 54g is nice. (the trendnet was cutting edge at the time... 802.11b/x, bet you have not heard of that?) I will be looking forward to N, but really, my internet connnection is slower than my G, so besides faster wireless access to my server, have I really gained anything? Not really. N won't be an improvement for me because I won't have a need for any of the speed increases it promises. There's no point in putting a firehose end on your garden hose. If I want faster access to my server I jack into gigabit on my desk where I am most of the time anyway. If I'm on the front porch I don't need to be copying gigabyte files.

Wireless isn't for me. (1, Insightful)

kahrytan (913147) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944672)


  You can call me paranoid if you want but I will never use the wireless access on my router. I use the very same router the guy used in the article. WEP, WPA or WPA2 are too insecure for me to use.

A wireless router I would use is a router that uses at least 256bit encryption but would prefer military strength. And I want routers to containt a SD Memory card so I can use multiple encryption keys.

Wireless Routers are not ready YET. They are to insecure.

I'm already at MIMO/108Mbps (1)

Tribbles (218927) | more than 7 years ago | (#15944724)

I had 802.11b up until 2 weeks ago, when I decided I wanted faster rates. Due to my normal store's stock levels, I got a D-Link DWL-G650M, and a NetGear WPN802 access point (I've already got a perfectly good OpenBSD firewall/router for my ASDL line, so I don't need another router).
While I'm getting 108Mbps, I haven't noticed any range increase (it seems to be about the same as it was for the back of my house).
I'm not worried about incompatibility with the final specs, since it works /now/ - and I haven't had to wait until 2008.
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