The new Airport Extreme is something that all schools who are using wireless networks have craved for. One of the biggest issues in schools, are classes of students in a small area accessing the network through just a couple of wireless access points. If students are logging onto a server this can be extremely slow due to the lack of throughput (data transfer) from a lmited wireless bandwidth. A compromise is always needed to improve the connection such as having local logins rather than server homes, or making a specific computer image to make the best use of the network that is often going against what you are trying to achieve with technology, reducing what is copied to the server in the case of OSX server, you can choose which folders are sychronised while Windows profiles are a different matter (if anyone wants more on this subject just make a comment).
What Apple has done here is kind of a slap in the face to a ratification process by a bureaucratic body of self importance. Thats why this is called 802.11n draft. Anyway Apple has managed to make it compatible with a,b,g depending on how you set the station up. If you just turn it on it is only able to be used by b and g cards until you do two things. One - you have to install a piece of software to enable the ‘n’ part of your wireless card if you have a new enough Mac. Two - from what I can decipher from technical information ( I’ll know soon enough when I set some up) you use channels 36 to 64 in the 5 GH range for the ‘n’ protocol while still using channels 1 to 13 in the 2.4GH range for b and g.
The main thing here is that the n protocol is up to 5 times faster and has twice the range than its predecessors. No major wireless hardware provider has released anything like this yet because they can’t make a backward compaitble device due to the vast kinds of airport cards around. Apple has decided to not worry to much about that as its own hardware works with it. If you have a generic n capable card you may and probably will have problems using this protocol.