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Can WLAN support NetMeeting, locally and globally?

My school plans to add a wireless LAN (802.11b) to link up with about 30 computers. Plus, it is required to use NetMeeting locally and globally. Can WLAN support this, if not, can 802.11g support it?

What do I need to do for upgrading the network to 802.11g?
If we leave wireless out of the equation for a second what you're looking at is up to 30 people using NetMeeting both internally within your school and/or with members of the global community. Now, assuming a worst cast scenario of everyone using NetMeeting with others around the world you have to consider that you're most likely looking at 20-30 UDP streams of up to 200 kbps each (or more) for a clear connection for each student. Assuming there are more than 30 students at your school then your school now has to worry about not only e-mail and http (Web) traffic but also up to around 5 Mbps of NetMeeting streams.

My question to you is: Can your WAN link handle that?

If the answer is yes, and you're still wondering if 802.11b or 802.11g will satisfy your requirements then I'm going to say "it depends." When rolling out WLANs you need to consider what applications are running over them, the amount of traffic that each application generates and the number of users per cell (per access point.)

If you're ONLY going to use NetMeeting or you can say for certain that whilst you're using NetMeeting you won't be using it for other applications then yes, you might be able to get away with a single access points running 802.11b - but you're running VERY close to the limit (if not already over it.) The type of physical environment, the location of the access point and the access point's power settings, the RTS/CTS configuration, frame fragmentation settings, Delivery Traffic Indication Map (DTIM) period, etc, will all have a dramatic effect on the throughput and you may need either a 2nd access point or to migrate to 802.11g when there are enterprise products available.

As for an upgrade path - Cisco, Orinoco, Proxim, etc. all have upgrade paths for their enterprise equipment. It won't be free and it will most likely be the purchase of a new PCMCIA card or mini-PCI card (depending on the vendor.) However, the 400-600% gain in speed resulting from a migration to a native 802.11g environment will be worth it for large organisations and educational institutions that deal with media-rich content or high-density user scenarios.

This was last published in June 2003

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