Wireless N questions

I’ve been reading a little online about the Wireless N standard.
Supposedly, a connection using Wireless N will be faster, because the connection will send/receive on more than one channel simultaneously. This sorta makes sense, if both sides of the connection are using the new standard.
The stuff I’ve read also claims that you will have more range/get better connections with weaker signals. Something about being able to use reflected/bounced signals.

My question is about the second claim.
If, with my current Wireless a/b/g standard card, I see a weak (1-bar) wireless signal, will installing a Wireless N card make that signal appear stronger? How much stronger? Does this really work in practice?

Also, does it do any good to put a Wireless N card into an older laptop or desktop? will they gain the advantages (if any) or will they not, due to needing some upgrade?

I see Wireless N cards for sale, so I’m guessing some early adopter has tried one.


Not sure about the rest of your questions. The access point (or router) must also use the N standard. Bad idea for a laptop, as public hot spots are b/g, not N, and for a desktop, you’d need to change out your router or AP.

It won’t make your internet connection any faster though. Even wireless B has more than enough bandwidth to keep up with cable internet.

I would be surprised if you can find an N card that did not also work for B for use at public hot spots etc. It is part of the standard that equipment be backwards compatible.

I will also point out that the 802.11N standard is not yet finalized (due in 2009). So there is the risk that any equipment you buy now may not inter operate with equipment running the final standard. Most of what you can buy now say that they will provide software upgrades but I have found company’s commitment to this sort of thing to be variable at best.

Most if not all draft-N cards also support 802.11b & g (and usually a) standards; it’s practically a must, especially since the various draft-N protocols are, at best, only partially compatible with one another.

It depends upon the quality of your signal and how many other clients are attached to the router. For a single user with a good quality signal, the bandwidth is more than adequate; at longer distances, with interference, or having to share bandwidth with multitudes of other users, however, you may see an improvement when using the 802.11n adapter and a complementary N (or draft-N) wireless access point or router. I’ve also seen modest improvements in range and apparent signal quality using a couple of different MIMO/draft-N routers with standard 802.11g adapters, presumably due to more powerful and/or redundant signal from the WAP. Whether a draft-N adapter would show improvement with a standard 802.11g WAP I don’t know, but I suspect it wouldn’t be much.

Again, it should be noted that the MIMO/draft-N protocol implementations from each hardware manufacturer are not entirely compatible, and thus getting spec bandwidth from one may very well not guarantee obtaining similar bandwidth from another. It’s also possible that draft-N adapters may not work with WAPs running in exclusive, final 802.11n standard, or may not work with it in 'N exclusive" mode (where it doesn’t support b or g standards). As with all early adopter technology, buy at your own risk.


Thanks - sounds like the answer is “wait a while”.