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Wi-Fi Reloaded

Maybe all your 802.11b network needs is a boost.

Newer, more robust Wi-Fi flavors are hovering out there like jumbo jets waiting to land at Kennedy. But don't abandon your investment in your original 802.11b network just yet. There are a growing number of ways to give "b" a boost.

First, Texas Instruments has a more powerful radio that U.S. Roboticsand SMC Networksuse to double 802.11b transmission speeds-as high as 22Mbps with adapters that cost about $60.

D-Linkalso uses it to extend the range of D-Link AirPlus brand 802.11b networks by up to 50 percent via its DWL-800AP+ repeater. The $79 (all prices street) repeater only works with D-Link's 22Mbps AirPlus adapters, so you lose the ability to mingle other brands on your network. But DWL-800AP+ can double as another access point in a pinch.

SMC also has a new EliteConnect family of adapters with double or triple normal "b" range, even in mixed 802.11b/802.11g networks. The first in the family is a $69.99 SMC2532W-B PC Card that you can mingle with other adapter brands.

Other companies, such as MeshNetworks, are using software solutions to extend the 802.11b range several miles; and, of course, the range of most "b" adapters can be boosted by adding the more powerful Wi-Fi antennas sold by most providers. Clearly, 11Mbps and 300 feet are not necessarily the outer limits of 802.11b.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the July 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Wi-Fi Reloaded.

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