CeBIT 2006: Networking – Part One

I take a look at Netgear's new range of networking products, including a sneak-peak at 802.11n.

Wandering around CeBIT, it was hard not to notice the Netgear stand with live music and beer on tap. Naturally, I stuck around to learn some more about their products.

Above you can see the new RangeMax 240. As the name suggests it can handle speeds of up to 240Mbit. This is a proprietary technology which borrows some ideas from the up and coming 802.11n standard. The access point uses multiple antennas so that you can extend range considerably and focus it on the areas that need it most. I expect this is why they are suggesting that even legacy 802.11b/g products will receive a 50% improvement in performance. All of these claims are bold, so we’d prefer to check it out for ourselves.

On the topic of 802.11n, we see Netgear unofficially showing off such devices. The ‘n’ standard is yet to be finalised, but there has been a close to final proposition that other manufacturers besides Netgear are also following. Netgear are fairly confident that this will be the finalised standard and will be releasing products soon. If there is a difference, hopefully a firmware upgrade can adjust for it. This will be offering anywhere from 400-600Mbit speeds and may well become part of the RangeMax range – so don’t expect to see 802.11n plastered all over the box.

You might remember we looked at the Devolo Ethernet over power line technology earlier last month. This device offers a similar technology, but at an elevated 200Mbits. Netgear do have a little more experience behind them, so I expect results to be a little better. This will be hitting the market in April. AMD were actually using these devices on their booth for streaming MPEG2 – how’s that for an endorsement!

A common theme throughout the networking portions of CeBIT was definitely VoIP, with many telephones and routers on display. This particular Wireless router also has VoIP support, for standard SIP protocols. Although they have done this before, it was apparently very difficult to configure and not far off the complication of setting up an Asterisk installation. For the average consumer, this is a bit much. This model is technologically ready for market, but they are waiting on the software to be completed that will make setting up VoIP as simple as Skype.

More on networking tomorrow, when I go and hunt out the Wireless USB hub being displayed on the Belkin stand.

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