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« Buffalo Ships Airgo-Based Gateways | Main | Ruckus Says 802.11n Offers No Video Streaming Improvements »

April 13, 2006

Buffalo, NetGear Vie over First to Ship Draft N; D-Link Later This Month

By Glenn Fleishman

Buffalo vies with NetGear over bragging rights: Buffalo announced today that its three Broadcom-based draft 802.11n networking devices are the first to reach retailers with its AirStation Nfini. The company is selling a gateway, PC Card, and PCI Card designed to operate at speeds of up to 100 Mbps. While the standard supports a raw rate of about 300 Mbps—faster using some proprietary Broadcom tricks—the device has 10/100 Mpbs Ethernet and internally can’t support faster rates over the airlink.

In an interview earlier in the week, Morikazu Sano, Buffalo’s senior vice president of global marketing, said that the cost of adding gigabit Ethernet was still too high for a general market product of this sort, and that as costs dropped the faster switch speed would be added. “Instead of being first to announce the product, we wanted to be the first to ship the product,” said Sano. The router is $179; the adapters, $129 each.

Sano was blunter than most manufacturers about “futureproofing”: whether these Draft N devices would be guaranteed by Buffalo to be upgradable via firmware or equipment swap to the final 802.11n standard. Sano said, “We cannot promise that,” and that “I don’t think it’s right to make that announcement.” Buffalo expects firmware upgradability, but believes that its chip supplier, Broadcom, will have to commit first to that guarantee before Buffalo as a manufacturer can make the same claim.

Early adopters are expected to snap up the Nfiniti because of its ability to deliver somewhere north of four times the throughput of plain 802.11g and about two to three times the throughput of enhanced 802.11g using frame bursting and other techniques. Sano suggested that gamers, graphic designers, and video/audio mixers would probably be among their first customers. With more powerful laptops, it’s more likely that a user would want to maintain their untethered status while still having high-speed network access.

Meanwhile, NetGear said today that they not only shipped their gigabit Draft N gear (also using Broadcom chips) to retailers days ago, but their 10/100 Mbps line and related devices are now in the supply channel.

For the record, I can’t find any etailer, including both Buffalo and NetGear’s own online stores, that list any of this gear as available for immediate shipment. Only lists NetGear’s gigabit kit and that with a 1-2 week delay for receipt.

Marvell today noted that D-Link’s Draft N products, scheduled to ship later this month, will use Marvell chips. Marvell calls its chip line TopDog.

Posted by Glennf at April 13, 2006 2:30 PM

Categories: 802.11n, Consumer


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