Ruckus Wireless has released the results of an independent study it sponsored showing that WLAN robustness is heavily dependent on RF design considerations.
Performance is becoming more important as sources of interference in the ISM band multiply. Bluetooth, WLANs, proprietary technologies and UWB all contest the spectrum. The tests were conducted in a test bed of a typical mid-sized company's 802.11g network.
Many enterprise-level IT managers are focused on the important topics of security and manageability of WLANs to the detriment of fundamental performance. But performance as measured in throughput vs. distance is the ultimate test of a WLAN and throughputs varied considerably in the test conducted by Jones-Pedrick and Associates.
The single story office complex testbed occupied 18,726 square feet with a layout typical of a medium to large business. The floor plan included private offices, laboratories and warehouse space along with open cubicles.
This unoccupied space was selected because it reflected a common enterprise environment and was ideal for objective testing as there were no Wi-Fi networks or other RF interference within the 2.4GHz band.
While most systems fared well at short distances, consistent performance across the coverage area and the ability to adapt to the environment variables in real time were not evident in every case.
At a moderate range of 97 feet from the signal source and with interference introduced by another WLAN, the results were significant but not particularly remarkable. The Ruckus WLAN delivered 6.58 Mbits/s to a single client. Two other products delivered 4.31 and 4.11 Mbits/s respectively to a single client. The drop off in performance continued down to the seventh WLAN, which notched 1.09 Mbits/s.
In what was termed "the most difficult location" (150 feet) the Ruckus WLAN showed an even larger margin. It delivered an aggregate of 15.66 Mbits/s spead over 20 clients. The nearest competitor reached an aggregate transfer for 20 clients of 7.15 Mbits/s.
The six WLANs competing with Ruckus in the test were not named in the test document.