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7 - Draft 11n Take Off

802.11n got a boost from the creation of the Draft 2.0 standard back in March. But the bulk of wireless LAN products sold continue to be good ol' 802.11g.

Part of the reason is that some consumers don't want to buy a technology that isn't finalized, particularly given the wireless industry's track record. (Anyone remember 802.11b+?). And some buyers don't like the higher prices for 11n gear.

Consumer networking companies have taken a few approaches to the pricing problem. Most have held off on introducing pricier dual-band products, choosing instead to get their existing inventories of single band products drawn down a bit.

Others, such as Linksys with its "Range Plus" line, are introducing products based on RaLink's "1T2R" pseudo-MIMO chipset, trading off performance for lower price. But, at least in Linksys' case, they're not saying the product is using draft 802.11n inside.

Unless equipment manufacturers can present consumers with a compelling reason to upgrade to 11n, 2008 will see 11g continue to dominate as the WLAN technology of choice.

8 - Linksys disappear

I have to confess that I thought the Linksys brand was a goner, when it was assimilated by Cisco back in 2003. But there still must be gold in them thar Linkies, because new products continue to appear under the brand that made home networking famous.

Cisco's John Chambers went on record this year saying that the Linksys brand will eventually be retired. But 2007 wasn't the year that Linksys died and I don't think that 2008 will be, either.

9 - Wireless Security really become easy

Are you tired of waiting for the promise of "push-button" wireless security to finally become real? I know that I am. 2007 saw the Wi-Fi Alliance finally make public the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) scheme that combined competing proposals from Broadcom, Microsoft and Atheros (among others).

But implementation still remains spotty. New wireless products continue to appear with non-functional or buggy WPS features, or even no WPS at all.

And, of course, don't expect an upgrade for any gear you already own. As with the WPA changeover, most manufacturers will be concentrating their resources on getting WPS into new products and expect you to replace your current ones to get the benefit.

10 - Gigabit Ethernet become standard

I'm really surprised that networking gear is still being shipped with only 10/100 Ethernet ports. The transition from 10 Mbps to 10/100 Mbps Ethernet seemed to happen overnight. But ubiquitous gigabit E seems to be taking forever.

Maybe manfs think that the U.S.' embarrisingly slow Internet infrastructure means that we don't need faster LAN speeds. Or maybe they don't want to make it any easier for digital downloaders to copy multi-gigabyte sized media files.

Or maybe we just need to stop buying products with only 10/100 ports!


Let's all raise a glass to a better 2008. Happy New Year!

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