How Fast are US Robotics New 802.11g Products?

Stop in at the US Robotics (USR) Web site these days and you’re going to see many a graphic touting Wireless Turbo, the name for the company’s latest family of WLAN products. Based on the draft for the 802.11g standard (which will be finalized later this summer), the products are also accompanied by big graphics saying “100Mbps.”

This speed is not the true throughput the products can achieve, according to Kevin Goulet, vice president of Global Product Management at USR. He says, “We’re expecting folks will see from 22 to 25 Mbps world in actual usable throughput.” This is only in a pure 11g environment, however. In mixed mode networks with both 802.11b and 11g, you would see slower speeds as the network dummies down to match the slower 11b clients.

The USR Wireless Turbo products use “Accelerator Technology” to “take out the overhead in the executions of the pre 11g standard,” says Goulet.” The data going back and forth is not just all header and directional overhead eating in the throughput.”

It acceleration is like a “turbo mode,” similar to what Atheros chip-based products can do, where the theoretical maximum speed without overhead is doubled. The theoretical maximum speed of 802.11g products is 54Mbps; most will deliver speeds only in the low 20Mbps area. With Turbo Mode, the theoretical maximum goes to 108Mbps, much like USR’s goes to 100.

The USR products are, in fact, based on Texas Instrument’s dual-band capable chips, the TNETW1130. USR has long been using TI’s chips for WLAN products, having previously had an entire suite of products using TI’s so-called 802.11b+ which could go to speeds of 22Mbps in much the same way.

USR recently announced some software/firmware upgrades to boost even the speed of 802.11b+.

802.11g speeds have been getting a boost in real-world speeds lately from chip makers like Atheros and Intersil, who will be using signal bursting and other technologies such as compression to get faster speeds. Atheros calls there’s “Super G,” Intersil’s is Nitro .

The new USR products consist of a router (model 8054), an access point with multiple functions including bridging networks and repeating signals (model 5450), a PCI adapter for desktops (model 5416) and a PC Card (model 5410). All will support WEP keys up to 256-bit, Wi-Fi Protected Access, 802.1X authentication, and are upgradeable to 802.11i when that security standard is ready later this year. No pricing information was announced by the company, but the products should go on sale in July.

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