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A developer of wireless LAN performance and analysis test systems is introducing a product designed to test network equipment operating under the 802.11n standard being discussed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

VeriWave’s 802.11n WaveBlade, slated to be released in the second quarter of 2007, can test an entire enterprise network installation—not only the wired LAN segments but also 802.11n WLAN components as well as 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g ones.

The product comes as a number of WLAN vendors prepare for the ratification of the 802.11n standard, which VeriWave officials said is expected to offer transfer speeds up to eight times faster than existing WLAN networks, without performance degradation.

“802.11n is perhaps the most important development in the history of wireless LANs and will lead to WLANs becoming the default connectivity for essentially all mobile users across all applications,” said Craig Mathias, a principal with the wireless and mobile advisory firm Farpoint Group, in a statement. “It’s critical that system vendors have the ability to perform the functional and performance testing of 802.11n devices in a precise, repeatable and automated fashion, and test equipment such as VeriWave’s 802.11n traffic generator/analyzer is the best means to this end.”

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Forrester Research analyst Chris Silva, however, cautioned businesses to be careful before adopting 802.11n technology before the standard is ratified. Most enterprise deployments do not require the level of bandwidth that the proposed standard promises, he said. In addition, the existence of 802.11n on the same 2.4GHz spectrum as existing 802.11b and or 802.11g WLAN deployments could create interference issues and jeopardize connectivity and reliability, he noted.

“We are beginning to see client-side support for .11n in implementations such as the Intel Centrino platform,” Silva said. “However, few WLAN solution vendors currently offer a modular design which would allow for a piecemeal upgrade of the WLAN to support .11n. While 802.11n is no doubt the next standard for the enterprise WLAN, adopting the technology ahead of its formal ratification is best left to those enterprises currently exhausting bandwidth of mission-critical .11g deployments.”

As the IEEE 802.11n standard evolves, the 802.11n WaveBlade has been designed with key components such as baseband, MAC and protocol engines able to accommodate any changes in the current draft.

“We’ve designed the 802.11n WaveBlade to ensure quality at every stage in the product chain, from 802.11n chips through access points and controllers,” said Eran Karoly, vice president of marketing at VeriWave, in a statement. “The 802.11n WaveBlade offers developers and QA engineers the ability to test functionality and performance of their designs, without requiring the use of not-yet-available standards-compliant 802.11n clients.

“Not only does this solution offer scalable test conditions,” Karoly continued, “it also addresses the complete test scenario, by incorporating a standards-defined channel emulator that models all of the channel models defined by the IEEE. Since the 802.11n standard is still in draft form and remains quite fluid, we’ve engineered this solution to be extremely flexible in supporting evolving features, and making it compatible with the evolution of 802.11n.”

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