Wi-Fi Alliance to certify "pre-standard" 802.11n gear next year

Summary:What do you do if a standard is taking too long to thrash out and manufacturers are desperate to get their gear out of the door? You come up with a "pre-standard" instead! This is what's happening with the 802.11n standard - this standard won't be ratified until 2008, but "pre-standard" certified equipment will start hitting the shelves next year.

What do you do if a standard is taking too long to thrash out and manufacturers are desperate to get their gear out of the door?  You come up with a "pre-standard" instead!  I wonder whether the Wi-Fi Alliance has been forced into this position by manufacturers who are already selling draft 802.11n gearThis is what's happening with the 802.11n standard - this standard won't be ratified until 2008, but "pre-standard" certified equipment will start hitting the shelves next year.

The Wi-Fi Alliance today announced that it plans to start certifying 802.11n WiFi products based on a "pre-standard".  The reason?  Here’s what Wi-Fi Alliance Managing Director Frank Hanzlik has to say:

"This two-phase approach balances our longstanding commitment to standards-based technology with the current market need for product interoperability certification."

What this means is that it's taking too long to thrash out a standard and manufacturers want to sell equipment now and worry about interoperability later.  In fact, I wonder whether the Wi-Fi Alliance has been forced into this position by manufacturers who are already selling draft 802.11n gear.  This decision by the Wi-Fi Alliance might have been prompted by Intel's plans to press ahead with the Santa Rosa platform and release it as a draft standard product rather than wait for the standard to be ratified.

But it's a bad move for one reason in particular - there's no guarantee that gear certified to this "pre-standard" will be compatible with equipment certified to the final standard.  This means that consumers can't be confident that the investment they make in 2007 won't have to be junked in a year or so because of conflicts with newer gear.  Technology becomes obsolete soon enough without adding uncertainties like this into the equation.

I'm certainly in no rush to jump on the 802.11n bandwagon.  802.11g is good enough for my wireless needs.  For anything else, I'm happy with my 1Gbps wired network.

Topics: Wi-Fi

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Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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