Articles: Networking

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The past few years have marked the advent of all manner of wireless technologies, the landmarks being the beginning of commercial use of 3G mobile networks in some countries, the ratification of the WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e) standard at the end of 2005, high popularity of Bluetooth-supporting devices, RFID solutions, etc. Yet the most important event of all is the explosion-like development of Wi-Fi networks. Viewed as a rather expensive and exotic corporate solution just a few years ago, Wi-Fi technology has matured (under Intel’s aegis) so that almost each notebook is now equipped with a wireless interface and there are public Wi-Fi access points everywhere – in caf?s, restaurants, airports, even at car service centers. Wi-Fi has been getting as it has been getting more popular.

Today, any person or small business can afford deploying a wireless network and this review is about the TEW-611BRP router from TRENDnet which will help you build your own office or home Wi-Fi infrastructure for modest money.

The TEW-611BRP is an integrated solution that combines a 4-port Ethernet switch, IP router and Wi-Fi access point with support of hot technologies Super G and MIMO for higher wireless bandwidth and a wider signal range.

Before describing the functionality of the TEW-611BRP, I would first like to dwell upon the mentioned technologies for a while. What is their point and do they offer any advantages compared with the existing official standards?

Today, there are two popular high-speed protocols in the Wi-Fi family (or, officially speaking, IEEE 802.11): 802.11g and 802.11a. They provide a maximum bandwidth of 54Mbps at 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, respectively. However, the effective data-transfer speed is only about 25Mbps due to hardware overhead and is also reduced proportionally to the number of network adapters which are simultaneously using the same access point. This speed is still quite sufficient for a majority of applications, including delivery of video.

But there’s no stopping to progress, especially when the laws of marketing dictate their magic of numbers – it’s no secret that an electronic device is selling better when there’s a more impressive number on its box. So even before the official 802.11g specs were approved, all the leading developers of Wi-Fi chipsets (Airgo, Agere, Atheros, Broadcom, Conexant, Texas Instruments) had started to work on their proprietary extensions to the standard intended to increase the data-transfer rate. Each company acted independently, but the solutions eventually turned to have quite a lot in common. They will be covered in the next section.

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