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Wireless Features

Super-G and Range

Now that I've shown that Super-G doesn't kill every non-Super-G WLAN within range, I'd like to clarify another Super-G performance issue - range.

NETGEAR's 108 Mbps Wireless Solution: Technology Overview (PDF) makes the following pitch regarding Super-G's range:

Double-channel bonding mode operates by using two radio channels, bonding them together so they appear as a single channel to both the transmitter and receiver. Not only does this feature double the data rate from the 802.11g-standard 54 Mbps to the NETGEAR 108 Mbps Super Wireless, it also increases your network's effective range. Usually, data rates for wireless networks decrease as users move away from the router. But with bonding, data rates at any given distance are effectively doubled.

Maybe it's just me, but this looks like NETGEAR is trying to equate Super-G's channel bonding feature to improved range. My experience, however, told me otherwise, so I did a simple experiment.

I set up the NETGEAR WGT624 in my office, loaded the WG511T Cardbus card into my notebook, started a Chariot throughput script and took two walks - with and without Super-G enabled.

I walked the same route at roughly the same pace both times, stopped briefly at a distance where the connection was pretty slow, then retraced my steps back to my starting point. The only accomodation I made to performance was to keep the WG511T's antenna roughly pointed at the access point's location throughout my walks.

Throughput vs. Range - NETGEAR WG511T and WGT624 - 11g vs Super-G modes

Figure 24: Throughput vs. Range - NETGEAR WG511T and WGT624 - 11g vs Super-G modes
(click on the image for a full-sized view)

Figure 24 shows a composite plot of the two walks. The Super-G enabled walk is the upper plot; the lower plot shows my stroll with Super-G off.

You'll have to forgive the fact that the timings of both plots don't exactly match and that the Super-G disabled walk ends early, but I think you can get the key point. Channel bonding does not determine the maximum range of products that use it, since the plot clearly shows that I could go the same distance with it on or off.

It is true that channel bonding provides increased throughput at the same distance over at least part of its range. But as the plot shows, at some distance the throughput difference disappears. Even with the higher throughput gone, though, you're still left with a decent connection at a distance that you'd be hard-pressed to get with products based on anyone else's chipset.

By the way, the lowest throughput point on Figure 24 was obtained about 300 feet away from the access point! I didn't take any special care in access point placement and the signal had to travel through two interior and one exterior walls, a detached garage and various trees (without their leaves). This far exceeds anything else I've ever tested!

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