This is some truly odd—and somewhat disturbing—news. We’ve been following the progress of the next generation wireless standard, 802.11n, which ought to provide theoretical maximum speeds of 540Mbps, as well as increased efficiency over long ranges. And while 802.11n gear has been released, the final standard has not been approved by the governing body, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Just the other week, the
standard review was pushed further back, suggesting that we would perhaps not see 802.11n until 2008.
Wi-Fi Alliance, a business trade group set up to ensure interoperability between various companies’ Wi-Fi equipment, has announced that they will step up and certify 802.11n equipment in two separate stages: one against the 2.0 Draft of the 802.11n standard and one when the IEEE standard is ratified. There is no guarantee that equipment from the first phase will be compatible with equipment from the second and final stage.
In some ways this is a step up from
the current willy nilly nature of the marketplace, in which each vendor is promoting their own “Draft N” equipment, none of which is guaranteed to be compatible with any other vendor’s products. At the same time, approving 802.11n gear now could set a precedent by condoning vendors’ actions in launching half-baked products before a standard is finalized.