With the recent ratification of 802.11n a lot of people are writing/talking about it. This has a lot more people wondering if they should be thinking about it and confused about what it means to them. So, since some of those people have turned to me for advice on the subject I thought I'd take a few minutes to shed some light on "n".

First off, 802.11n has been around for quite a while now. I've been using it at home for well over a year and I see it quite commonly in business environments. Most of the wireless infrastructure gear that you buy nowadays supports 802.11n. This means that the questions you need to ask yourself aren't around whether or not to buy 802.11n gear - they're about whether or not you should be deploying and supporting 802.11n.

To answer that question, let's first look at why 802.11n was developed - speed. It's all about throughput, baby. Wireless networks have always been noticeably slower than wired networks and "n" was designed to help solve that problem. So, if your wireless networks need more throughput then you should start thinking about deploying 802.11n.

Another common question is since the standard has now been ratified, will we all have to go out and replace the gear that we bought that was based on the draft? The answer to that is no. I haven't seen a case yet where this is the case and I don't expect to. The ratified standards hasn't changed much from the draft versions and so far every vendor I've talked to is planning to resolve any inconsistencies within software.

When deploying any new technology one of the main concerns should be manageability. Beginning with version 9.5, wireless infrastructure management is now included within every copy Orion NPM. As you're testing new wireless technologies and prototyping deployments on your networks be sure to remember to also add those devices to Orion and test for support there.

I could go on for a long time on this subject as there are several best practices around the deployment of 802.11n and there are also some really interesting lessons learned from organizations that have tried early deployments, but it's the Friday before Labor Day and I would imagine that a lot of you are already thinking about that long weekend. Be safe out there.

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