Wireless Handheld Devices - The 802.11n Advantage
The benefits of upcoming 802.11n standard are well-known. The methods defined in this standard are so beneficial and the standard itself so crucial to the growth of wireless LAN that the Wi-Fi Alliance® has created a certification program based on the draft standard itself. And the certification programs based on the legacy 802.11a/b/g standards have been so successful that the term ‘Wi-Fi’ is widely used interchangeably with ‘WLAN’.
The growth in the adoption of Wi-Fi has been tremendous – and has met or exceeded most projections over the past few years. Starting with widespread integration into laptop or notebook computers, Wi-Fi is becoming the choice of connectivity in a wide variety of mobile as well as fixed devices – including mobile phones, PDAs, music players, handheld gadgets, industrial equipment, display devices, and many others. For the WLAN industry, significant attention is, of course, on mobile phones – those devices that are becoming so inseparable from individuals that they promise to be soon an extension of one’s persona. A significant proportion of the growth beyond voice calls is enabled by the availability of some form of data connectivity – a function handily addressed by wireless LAN given the increasing availability of WLAN connectivity in the enterprise, home, and public environments.
There are key issues to be considered while integrating WLAN connectivity into a mobile phone – a primary consideration being power consumption. These have been addressed by various WLAN device providers – but most of these solutions have focused on the legacy 802.11b/g standard. Now on the one hand, we have an explosive growth in the adoption of Wi-Fi in all environments with a strong trend of 802.11n becoming the standard of choice in high traffic scenarios, and on the other hand a fast increasing number of WLAN connected hand-held devices that might use legacy 802.11b/g connectivity. In this article, we see how the full benefits of 11n in an enterprise scenario may be compromised by the presence of legacy 11b/g devices, and why a single-stream 11n solution would be the best fit for emerging hand-held devices.