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D-Link, US Robotics & others go 802.11G
near
light-speed - 108Mbps Wi-Fi

by Keith Benicek, Managing Editor and
Zack Bryce Tech Lab Mgr.
Oct. 20, 2003 (updated 10/21/03)

Just when you thought that the Alphabet WiFi thing, with confusing compatibilities and bit-rates was understandable, a few companies have thrown a high-speed wrench in it. Worse yet, all three of them are claiming king of the hill too.

US Robotics and Netgear have just recently begun running ads for their new 802.11g Routers, Access Points and CardBus Adapters with this new potential 108Mbps capability for 2.4GHz “G” devices. It appears, from what little info there is on both manufactures sites, that you’ll have to buy new hardware to get this performance.

There is no Firmware download listed on the US Robotics site, which makes sense since their .11g devices are very new anyway. Accton Technologies, a very large manufacturer of networking hardware in Taiwan makes most of USR’s products, you’ll notice the striking similarities to SMC’s product line and a few other brands that go to Accton for their gear. It is reported that the US Robotics hardware is Texas Instruments chip set based "100Mbps 802.11g+"

USR is claiming the speed king of the hill honors in their ads and on their site. From the USR site, “Tested against the 54 Mbps products from Linksys, Dlink and Netgear, the U.S. Robotics Turbo products showed the technology innovations we developed provide a speed boost of up to 100%. But our advantage is not only speed. They also provide complete compatibility with standards based 802.11g and 802.11b and they support 256-bit WEP encryption for superior security.”
 
                 Chart from US Robotics web site
Netgear is also offering a new line very recently of 802.11g hardware after a long absence and these reportedly have 108Mbps capability. Netgear is also a marketing company that makes none of their branded hardware. As with USR, Netgear is claiming to be the “108” speed champ as well; but Netgear is using the Atheros' "Super G" technology instead.

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The new single-band 802.11g products from Netgear, marks a vendor shift away from Intersil, which was purchased last month by Globespan Virata. This single-band (802.11g) hardware approach seems to be pretty market limiting, while a vast majority of WLAN hardware providers are on-board with Artheros chipsets for dual-band (a/b) or tri-band (a/b/g) Access Points or WLAN Routers.

Linksys, the largest market share holder and a hardware marketing company that grew out of a Irvine California “garage marketing” operation by a husband and wife, now owned by Cisco Systems, makes no mention of any 108Mbps capability on their web site. Linksys also make none of their own hardware, using manufacturing contractors in Asia. We understand that Linksys is using the Broadcom chip set for 802.11g, which may be why they cannot provide 108Mbps connectivity. Broadcom has announced work on 108Mbps capabilities, but nothing has come of it since. Our contacts at Broadcom are silent.

Apple also uses the Broadcom chip-set and may well be in the same boat with Linksys and no avenue to 108Mbps with existing hardware. There has been no mention of any “enhanced .11g capability” on the Apple site either. Apple was recently named 'Innovator of the past 30 years’ by Computing (magazine) from the UK. What were they thinking?


D-Link, located in Irvine and Fountain Valley California with manufacturing in Taiwan, was the first to put 802.11G hardware on store shelves. In a recent announcement (Oct. 13, 2003), D-Link also said that they were offering a free 108Mbps firmware update for their existing XtremeG Wireless hardware. And like the others, D-Link is also claiming to be the fastest of the 108Mbps early adoptors.

“…(D-Link) today released a revolutionary performance and interoperability upgrade firmware for its high-performance D-Link Xtreme G wireless networking line of products that deliver 108Mbps bandwidth in the 2.4GHz frequency range. The new upgrade firmware for D-Link Xtreme G is free and it delivers the industry's fastest wireless network with excellent results and consistent data rate throughput, besting the nearest 108Mbps competitor by 28% and the nearest 54Mbps g competitor by 100% while remaining dynamically compatible with 802.11 2.4GHz g/b products.”

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