108Mbps-Do you need it?

Just when you were getting accustomed to your 802.11b Wi-Fi network, new technology reared its ugly head. Proxim, Intel and others have rolled out 54Mbps 802.11a wireless networks. But there's one difference: Proxim multiplexes its network to achieve speeds of up to 108Mbps.

of B2C online transactions will be conducted on devices other than a PC by 2005, compared with 0.2 percent in 2001.
SOURCE: Gartner Inc.

That's way faster than the standard 11Mbps Wi-Fi, so expect 802.11a networks to replace the slower version. But not before 2005, says Cahners In-Stat Group analyst Gemma Paulo. Vendors aren't in complete agreement on all aspects of the 802.11a standard. Meanwhile, 802.11b products are stable, have established distribution channels and cost half the price of 802.11a alternatives.

You can use 802.11b as a cheap way to network transient workgroups or for low-bandwidth-intensive data transfers where stability is valued. 802.11a bandwidth may be needed to share large graphic files or streaming PowerPoint presentations. Entrepreneurs might think about offering Internet access or DVD-quality videos in coffee shops, airports or other public venues.

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This article was originally published in the February 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Bandleader.

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