wlan historyEverybody at least in Germany and probably in some typical German tourist centers knows the famous Song by Paul Kuhn “There is no beer on Hawaii” but not many people know that a network very similar to the wireless LAN available nowadays was already set up in 1969 by the University in Hawaii. The network’s name was “ALOHAnet” and connected different parts of the university on the island Oahu.

Brief history of the WLAN

The idea was taken up no sooner than at the end of the 1980s. The first IEEE working group was founded in 1991 and was set up the technical basics of the new standard. The first devices were working according to pre-802.11 standard but were not compatible to the later IEEE standard. The data rates of 2 Mbit/s were relatively modest. The technology could not be really established in the first years because the first WLAN cards were very expensive. This changed at the end of 1999 as Apple launched an iBook with an incorporated WLAN card. A base station at a reasonable price was also produced by Apple.

By the way, this was also the time when the company Artem successfully placed the first wireless LAN products on the market. In the meantime Artem has merged with Teldat and wireless LAN products are well-established in our product portfolio.

The latest developments and innovations in WLAN networks

In terms of technology a great deal has happened since then. The transmission power has increased from 2 Mbit/s to several Gigabit/s, the data transmission is encrypted and much more besides. Also, from a commercial point of view, WLAN has become more and more important. Whereas in 2008 less than 100,000 WLAN chips were produced and sold, production numbers for WLAN chips have meanwhile increased up to the incredible number of almost 3 trillion.

This enormous increase is certainly because of the numerous mobile devices in the consumer market. However, not only the providers of inexpensive consumer devices have noticed a remarkable growth. Also suppliers of professional WLAN solutions have noticed an annual double-digit percentage growth.

This vast increase in terms of sales numbers will probably decline a bit. Nevertheless, further improvements of this technology and new applications will drive further growth. Especially in this context, we should mention the new 802.11ac standard. The first generation of this new technology is rather unsuitable for business applications because the new standard requires a very high demand of bandwidth which makes complex installations difficult.

The second generation of 802.11ac chipsets will be interesting for business solutions. These 802.11ac chipsets support the new MU-MIMO (multi-user MIMO). MU-MIMO applies in particular to mobile devices with only MIMO 1×1, which means only one antenna. So clients share the available streams or antennas of an access point in such a way that every client uses a different antenna of the access point. Thus, the maximum number of clients that can simultaneously connect to an access point or frequency has tripled or quadrupled. Therefore, it is possible to supply several hundred clients via one access point and multiplies the overall performance of the network, while it simplifies the setup of high performance WLAN networks for major events.

The setup, planning and installation of a WLAN network in major event locations has been one of Teldat’s competences for many years. The conclusion is that it remains exciting and we will definitely join it.


About the author

Hans-Dieter Wahl
WLAN Business Line Manager

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