[clug] What's the story with 802.11a?

Michael Carden michaelc at panasonic.com.au
Thu Nov 20 11:10:07 EST 2003

>- Why is it so cheap?

As a product drifts into the 'consumer' market, cheapness happens.

>- What are the range capabilities of 5GHz?

In other words; 'How long is a piece of string?'

Up front, let me say that I have not used any of this gear, so what I have
to say springs from my experience in using radio for other stuff.

All other things being equal, moving up in frequency generally results in a
reduction in range rather than an increase. Then again, all frequencies
above 50MHz were once consigned to amateurs because it was thought that they
would 'never be of any use.'

When frequencies are increased, all other things are almost never kept

Output power is often increased, cleverer modulation schemes are embraced
and receivers are made more sensitive. The usual trend when a new slice of
spectrum is approved for a particular use is that manufacturers rush to get
their products for that band to the market. To impress customers with
performance, power outputs are maximised (way high if no regulatory limits
are yet in place) and bandwidth is slurped up greedily.

Over time, the number of users increases so manufacturers start to reduce
output power and use less bandwidth in an effort to curb the effects of
congestion, but gradually a band becomes less useful than it was when
introduced (e.g. 2.4 GHz).

5.8GHz and thereabouts are relatively untrammelled in Oz at the moment, so
the gear is probably worth using. Once every man and his cordless phone /
baby monitor / garage door opener / backyard WAN etc pops up on 5 gig, all
bets are off.


PS - who's selling 802.11a stuff cheap?

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