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What is Ultimate-N?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

Ultimate-N is a term typically used to indicate high performing devices that utilize the Wireless-N standard for sending and receiving wireless signals. This is not a term used in any regulated way, but instead is used to indicate that a device uses Wireless-N standards and offers high performance. The exact nature of this performance is typically indicated by other documentation provided with such a device, and can vary widely from one piece of hardware to another. Ultimate-N can be used to describe a number of different pieces of hardware, from routers and modems to network cards and adapters.

Often written as “Ultimate N” or “Advanced-N,” Ultimate-N is not necessarily a technical term, but is instead a marketing term used to indicate a certain high level of performance. This term is usually used to describe hardware that uses Wireless-N technology, which refers to wireless devices that use the 802.11n standards and protocols for wireless devices. These standards are set by the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) and are often referred to as “IEEE 802.11” standards. There have been a number of different protocols within the 802.11 standard, which have each been given different letter designations.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

Wireless technology used in wireless networking has historically been designed and developed under the standards of IEEE 802.11 to ensure different devices function together properly. As new developments are made within the general guidelines of this standard, each new version is given a letter designation to indicate the improvements made, and to allow consumers and professionals to easily differentiate hardware. In 2009, Wireless-N technology was launched and meets the standards of IEEE 802.11n technology, which includes greater throughput and improved performance over older versions such as 802.11g and 802.11b.

Ultimate-N technology is typically nothing more than a device that uses Wireless-N standards but is designed to use the higher end of such standards. A number of different companies use the term “Ultimate-N” or similar derivations to indicate greater performance of devices that use the Wireless-N standards and protocols. These devices can include multiple antennas or other features that take advantage of the greater data rates and bandwidths available through Wireless-N standards. The term “Ultimate-N” does not necessarily indicate any particular feature or performance standard, however, and so consumer attention should be placed on the quantitative performance indicators provided by a device manufacturer, rather than on the marketing terminology used.

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