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Wi-Fi Reloaded

Maybe all your 802.11b network needs is a boost.
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This story appears in the July 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
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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.

Edition: May 2017

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