Searching out the G Spot

Posted on Aug 6, 2004

In preparation for spending more time at home in the near future I’ve been re-vamping the house network a little. Until recently most of our computers used 802.11b to connect to a Belkin wireless access point in the loft. This in turn is connected to a NetGear 10/100 hub (yes, hub). That hub is connected to the BT ADSL router.

I’ve been shying away from buying any more 802.11b cards for a while, as they’re clearly going to disappear completely soon (though my original WaveLAN IEEE 2Mbps cards do sometimes still get used). The Belkin access point is not one of the best - it seems to add 1ms to packet latency for no good reason. It also starts to get expensive to keep spending £50 on a card for each computer, particularly when they all have at least 100Mbit ethernet built-in.

So, we’re now the proud owners of a NetGear GS108, my very own gigabit switch. The price - less than £80 - astonished me when I started looking around. A few years ago I’d have expected to pay several thousand pounds for a similar device.

This hasn’t replaced the old 10/100 hub, rather it sits on my desk connected to the world via a NetGear WGE101, which is an 802.11g wireless bridge. It connects the gigabit switch to my wireless network at home. Now the various desktop computers can be wired rather than wireless, as long as they are all in the same room (which is mostly the case).

The aforementioned Belkin 802.11b access point will also go soon. At the moment I’ve borrowed a Cisco Aironet 1100 to check that everything works properly at the higher wireless speed and it’s great. Anyone who has 802.11b should jump up to 802.11g straight away.

Hitting the G Spot was pretty cheap, something around £200 for all of the parts (when I finally buy myself an access point). When I start to work from home the desktop gigabit network will improve NFS performance significantly over the previous wireless network. All in all - a cost effective and worthwhile upgrade.