Netgear to ship wireless LAN router

Netgear, a maker of wireless LAN products, announced Monday it will soon ship what the company says is among the fastest wireless LAN [WLAN] routers.

As in the case of all wireless products, maximum performance for the RangeMax 240, 240Mbps, comes when a device is in close proximity to the router; performance degrades the farther a device gets from the router.

Nevertheless, the RangeMax 240 will easily outperform 100Mbps wired Ethernet speeds, according to Vivek Pathela, a senior director of product marketing at Netgear.

"In a 5,000-square-foot home, throughput will still be five times more than standard IEEE 802.11g," Pathela said.

The performance of IEEE 802.11g is rated at 54Mbps.

The RangeMax 240 uses a MIMO (Multimedia Input, Multimedia Output) chipset developed by Airgo Networks.

MIMO technology works by employing multiple antennas and radios to enhance both speed and range performance.

In light of the fact that the IEEE will not ratify a higher standard for performance than the current 802.11g standard until sometime in 2007, users will see other chip manufacturers in addition to Airgo designing their own proprietary high-performance WLAN products, said Bob Wheeler a senior analyst with the Linley Group.

"IEEE 802.11n will be ratified sometime in 2007," Wheeler said.

However, while the Airgo-based product from Netgear is backward compatible with the 802.11g standard, Wheeler warns that devices from competing companies may not be interoperable.

"For consumers (with a single router and wireless card) it is not a big issue, but the enterprise will wait for standards. Most enterprise customers wouldn't deploy an IEEE 802.11n product until it is ratified or very stable," Wheeler said.

The improved performance and range of the RangeMax will allow users to go beyond broadband Internet sharing, Pathela said, allowing users to stream video from a storage device to a wireless PC or for use as a router in a VoIP installation.

The RangeMax 240 will ship this month and is priced at US$199 for the router and US$129 for the client cardbus.

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