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Avoiding 802.11b/g traffic jams

One vendor believes it can keep 802.11b clients from slowing traffic on 802.11g networks, but News Writer Jim Rendon wonders if anyone was losing sleep in the first place.

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Wireless LAN startup Meru Networks has tackled a problem in the new 802.11g networks: the slowdown of 802.11g traffic when older 802.11b clients get on the network. On an 802.11g network, the g traffic moves at about 22Mbps. But when 802.11b traffic gets on the network, the 802.11g traffic takes a hit and slows to about 8 Mbps.

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Meru essentially masks the competing traffic from each other, so the wireless network is unaware of the mixed traffic. That way Meru's Wi-Fi network allows the 802.11g traffic to move at its higher rate of 22 Mbps. Problem solved. Hurray for technology.

Maybe. Despite the technological achievement, this problem doesn't appear to be causing anyone to lose sleep. In most environments, Wi-Fi networks are used for e-mail, Web surfing and a few select applications. The bottleneck is rarely the wireless network. It is more often the WAN link. Analysts and some businesses say that no one really notices the difference.

Even voice, which requires low latency and jitter, is not a very high bandwidth application.

So, how much of a problem is the 802.11g slowdown? Drop us a line and let us know what you think.

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