Testing Faster Wi-Fi

By Eric Griffith

January 17, 2007

VeriWave's new add-on for its test system generates 802.11n traffic and analyzes it.

802.11n is the future of Wi-Fi, and that means one thing: testing. At least that's what it means for VeriWave, maker of Wi-Fi test equipment. This week, it announced a new blade to mount inside its WaveTest 90 chassis for testing, which will generate fake 802.11n traffic and analyze what it does to 11n devices, specifically those for the enterprise.

The 802.11n specification is not yet ratified — in fact, it may only be going to a 2.0 draft this week as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 Working Group meets in London. Final approval is unlikely to happen until 2008, but that's not stopping companies from pumping out products. Most are for the home networking market, but Eran Karoly, vice president of marketing for VeriWave, says the company is getting requests for these tests from customers that make enterprise infrastructure equipment. Cisco, for example, is a big VeriWave customer.

"Our product is built to test chipsets and entire access point solutions," Karoly says. "Functionality tests, performance tests, load tests, and all while addressing one of the most technically challenging issues in 11n as the MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) technology takes advantage of multiple transmissions and reception packets."

The new 802.11n WaveBlade integrates a channel emulator to simulate the multipath signals. It can handle all the IEEE channel models, generating traffic to simulate up to 500 11n clients.

VeriWave says the new 802.11n WaveBlade is future-proof as well, since they can upgrade the baseband, MAC and protocol engines to match the final 802.11n specification changes from the current draft.

The new blade has the same dimensions as others for the WaveTest 90, but more radio frequency connectors, from two to four depending on the MIMO implementation (2x2, 3x3, or 4x4). It will cost $30,000 and should ship in the second quarter of 2007.

VeriWave isn't the first test company to jump on the 11n train. Rival Azimuth Systems announced a MIMO Functional Test in May 2006 as the earliest Draft-N products were hitting the market. Azimuth said the solution offers "interoperability, performance, conformance and backward compatibility testing of draft 802.11n-based products." Azimuth equipment is used in test labs run by the Wi-Fi Alliance; the Alliance will be testing 11n for interoperability later this year.

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