Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 22/01/2002First tests are in on new wireless standard 802.11a -- nominal speed 55mbps -- and they show that it actually runs at around 28mbps.

Tuesday 22/01/2002

First tests are in on new wireless standard 802.11a -- nominal speed 55mbps -- and they show that it actually runs at around 28mbps. Which is still faster than 802.11b, which is what we're all using at the moment: that's supposedly 11mbps but really runs out of steam at around 5mbps.

The question is: do you wait for the 'a' train, or stick with 'b'? You may know enough about your network to answer that question already, but most of the big growth for wireless LANs will be at home, where you -- like me -- have absolutely no idea how much you need.

So, I've done my own tests. I've watched streamed video from my server, moved a thousand-odd (some very, very odd) music files from laptop to laptop, and tried all of the above while doing other things on other computers. (Oh, and if you think all that needs more computing power than one small two-bedroomed flat in Holloway should by rights contain, you're quite right. But you've got to do something to keep ahead of the Joneses).

It was a pleasant evening's escapades, and I never got close to 5mbps. Which only confirms my suspicions: if you've got or want any sort of domestic network at all, go out and get one now. 802.11a is going to be fab, it's going to be cheap and it's going to be fast -- but not tomorrow, nor the day after that, and it's older sibling is still more than you'll need for the foreseeable. And you get the really good stuff -- portability, flexibility and a nice warm glow in your nether regions where the microwaves get cooking -- with either.