802.11n: Next-Generation Wireless LAN
This white paper explains IEEE 802.11n, the newest draft specification for Wi-Fi®. It
is designed to provide an overview of the technology, describe new techniques used
to achieve greater speed and range, and identify applications, products, and
environments that will benefit from the technology.
802.11n: Next-Generation Wireless LAN Technology
Demand for wireless LAN hardware has experienced phenomenal growth during the
past several years, evolving quickly from novelty into necessity. As a measure of
this expansion, WLAN chipset shipments in 2005 surpassed the 100-million-unit
mark, a more than tenfold increase from 2001 shipments of less than 10 million
Thus far, demand has been driven primarily by users connecting notebook
computers to networks at work and to the Internet at home as well as at coffee
shops, airports, hotels, and other mobile gathering places. As a result, Wi-Fi®
technology is most commonly found in notebook computers and Internet access
devices such as routers and DSL or cable modems. In fact, more than 90 percent of
all notebook computers now ship with built-in WLAN.
The growing pervasiveness of Wi-Fi is helping to extend the technology beyond the
PC and into consumer electronics applications like Internet telephony, music
streaming, gaming, and even photo viewing and in-home video transmission.
Personal video recorders and other A/V storage appliances that collect content in
one spot for enjoyment around the home are accelerating this trend.
These new uses, as well as the growing number of conventional WLAN users,
increasingly combine to strain existing Wi-Fi networks. Fortunately, a solution is
close at hand. The industry has come to an agreement on the components that will
make up 802.11n, a new WLAN standard that promises both higher data rates and
increased reliability, and the IEEE standards-setting body is ironing out the final
details. Though the speci