Linksys Gives 802.11g a Boost

Linksys this week introduced a new line of 802.11g products for home and small business users featuring a speed-enhancing technology that the company says improves performance by as much as 35 percent.

The new line, called Wireless-G with SpeedBooster, includes a router ($129.99), PC card ($99.99) and PCI adapter ($99.99). The products, which have been certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, use Broadcom’s Afterburner technology, which can theoretically reach speeds of up to 125Mbps (actual throughput is around 30 to 35Mbps). Buffalo Technology and Belkin have also announced products based on the technology, but those products are not shipping yet.

While the company is claiming a 35-percent speed boost, internal testing has produced even better results, according to Steve Troyer, director of product marketing at Linksys, a division of Cisco . “We’re trying not to make outrageous claims and really focus on real-world performance rather than clean rooms and compressed data and that kind of stuff,” he explained.

The technology can also improve performance in wireless networks that contain both 802.11b and 802.11g products. “We want to make sure the customer gets a performance benefit even when they’ve got that mixed mode environment in place,” said Troyer. “In those cases, we’re seeing performance increase of up to 70 percent in overall aggregate throughput,” And again, he noted that Linksys testing showed even better numbers.

Linksys stresses that the Broadcom technology follows a “good neighbor” policy to limit interference with other nearby wireless networks. Unlike some other speed-boosting technologies, Afterburner uses only one channel for transmission.

Security features include Wi-Fi Protected Access , firewall and the 802.1x protocol. In addition, Linksys announced a new Parental Control Service that was developed in conjunction with Netopia. A 30-day free trial of the service is included with the purchase of a new router.

The Wireless-G with SpeedBooster products are expected to be available in April.

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