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Old Wi-Fi holding back the new

by on29 January 2014

Cisco moans

Old Wi-Fi standards are now holding back the newer, faster protocols that followed in their wake, Cisco Systems claims.

IEEE 802.11, now available in numerous versions with speeds up to 6.9Gbps and growing, still requires devices and access points to be compatible with technologies that date to the late 1990s. But Cisco said that these older standards are not nearly as efficient.

It is calling on the 802.11 Working Group and the Wi-Fi Alliance to find a way to let some wireless gear leave those versions behind. According to Network World two Cisco engineers proposed the idea last week in a presentation at the working group's meeting in Los Angeles.

Brian Hart, a principal engineer at Cisco and engineer Andrew Myles said that one of the main reasons 2.4GHz has a bad reputation is traffic sent using old, slow forms of Wi-Fi, according to. That happens partly because of outdated code written back when early Wi-Fi versions were more prevalent, and partly because of IEEE and Wi-Fi Alliance requirements for supporting the lower rates. 

Their plan is to make the best use of the 2.4GHz band, the smaller of two unlicensed frequency blocks where Wi-Fi operates. It does not affect the 5GHz band, which most modern Wi-Fi gear can use in addition to 2.4GHz. The 5GHz band has more available bandwidth and is less crowded, while the lower frequencies are sometimes called a "junk band" because so many devices use it for Bluetooth, baby monitors and other technologies in addition to Wi-Fi.

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