Linksys Goes Dual Band

Michael Brown

Still holding out on buying an 802.11n Draft 2.0 router? Good, because Linksys just announced a new model—the WRT600N—that should deliver even better range and speed, thanks to its ability to transmit in both the 2.4- and the 5GHz wireless spectrums simultaneously.

The IEEE 802.11n Draft 2.0 standard includes a “good neighbor” provision that dictates than any router capable of performing channel bonding must automatically turn that feature off if it senses any nearby routers transmitting on the same channels. The provision is designed to prevent one person’s router from impairing the performance of anyone else’s router operating in the same vicinity. It’s a good policy, but it effectively eliminates channel bonding as an option on routers that transmit in the 2.4GHz spectrum, because only three of the 11 channels (1, 6, and 11) in that frequency range don’t overlap.

Linksys' new dual-band 802.11n Draft 2.0 router, model WRT600N, operates on both the 2.4- and 5GHz spectrum.

The 5GHz frequency spectrum, on the other hand, offers 12 non-overlapping channels (an eight-channel block in the 5.3GHz range and a four-channel block in the 5.8GHz range). Linksys envisions its customers using the 2.4GHz spectrum to network PCs and operate VoIP devices, and utilizing the 5GHz spectrum for latency-sensitive devices such as Media Center extenders, set-top boxes, and gaming PCs. (The company will also offer a dual-band PC Card adapter, the WPC600N, for $99.)

The WRT600N will feature Linksys’ Storage Link technology, which enables users to add NAS functionality to the router by plugging a USB storage device (this feature is also available in Linksys’ WRT350N, which operates only in the 2.4GHz spectrum. I reviewed this device in the November 2007 issue of Maximum PC).

The new router won’t be cheap: Linksys announced an estimated street price of $280—an $80 premium over its already pricey single-band cousin, the WRT350N. Look for a hands-on review in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

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