Do Medical Devices Need 802.11n?

802.11n-radio

Because it promises throughput as much as 10 times greater than that available with current Wi-Fi® standards, the forthcoming IEEE 802.11n standard is generating tremendous interest among users of wireless LAN (WLAN) products. 802.11n throughput rivals that of Ethernet, and so availability of 802.11n may cause some organizations to use WLANs as the primary means of network access for typical computer users.

Although the 802.11n standard will not be finalized and ratified until 2009, it is easy to find laptops, home routers, and other products with radios that are based on a draft of the standard. The Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry association, is performing product interoperability testing and certification based on the draft standard. Should makers of medical devices be racing to add 802.11n to their devices?

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Potential Interference for MIMO Wi-Fi?

It seems that the Boston Globe is spreading inaccurate info on MIMO (multiple input/output) technology. This from the Boston Globe:

Another caution: avoid MIMO routers. These Multi Input, Multi Output gadgets achieve excellent signal quality and range by hogging the wireless spectrum up to 219 yards away. If you live in the city or suburbs, your MIMO router will knock out your wireless-enabled
neighbors’ connections.

And if your neighbors also have MIMO, you’ll all lose your connections. MIMO also won’t work with those free Wi-Fi hotspots that are popping up in increasing numbers of cafes and libraries.

And this is the reply from Glenn Fleishman, blogger at Wi-Fi Net News:

“Less Is More” (Apr. 9, 2005) contains a glaring error regarding multiple antenna wireless networking. The reporter says that MIMO (multiple not “multi” input/output) gateways hog spectrum and knock out neighbors’ reception. This is entirely untrue. MIMO gateways for Wi-Fi, unlike previous range-extending Wi-Fi, are more sensitive receivers not more powerful transmitters.

There’s more if you want all the technical details. It does seem that MIMO and/or 802.11n could become a source of coexistence and interference concerns, if not actual problems.

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