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11g - The Spoiler

Locked inside the new dual-band 11a/b client adapters, however, was Atheros' second-generation AR5001 chipset - half of the solution required to give 802.11a gear its second chance. Unfortunately, the other half - APs and routers with radios that also used the next-generation design - didn't appear until a few months after the client cards hit the shelves. By that time, most reviewers had already tested the clients with lash-ups of separate 11b and first-gen 11a APs and found the same 11a performance as before.

The real body-blow to 11a, however, was the Fall Comdex 2002 pre-emptive launch by Broadcom of WLAN products based on the draft version of the IEEE 802.11g standard. These long-awaited products promised the both the 54Mbps raw data rate of 802.11a, but with the added bonus of interoperability with existing 802.11b equipment, since they operated in the same 2.4GHz band.

As surprising as this announcement was, even more surprising was that draft-11g products actually started shipping in January 2003! Although they had their problems, these new products worked well enough, and - with a little help from Broadcom and Linksys' marketing groups - captured consumers' attention and this time left dual-band 11a/b products sitting on retailers shelves, joining their unsold 11a bretheren.

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