100Mbps Wi-Fi 'just around the corner'

CeBIT: The Wi-Fi Alliance has lifted the lid on its wireless roadmap and predicted that kit based on 802.11n will be in the shops by autumn next year

Wireless-networking kit capable of supporting connection speeds of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) or faster will hit the market before the end of next year, said the Wi-Fi Alliance, a wireless interoperability group, at the CeBIT trade show on Thursday.

Unveiling its roadmap for wireless services, the Wi-Fi Alliance predicted that 802.11n -- the eagerly awaited successor to today's Wi-Fi standards -- would be up and running in about 18 months. This is earlier than had previously been predicted.

"We estimate that the IEEE task-group for 802.11n will complete its work in the third quarter of 2005," a Wi-Fi Alliance spokesman said. He added that products based on the standard would also go on sale in the quarter, and that the Alliance will have a certification process in place in time for these launches.

After the farrago surrounding the 802.11g standard last year -- when certain manufacturers took the questionable decision to launch equipment based on 802.11g before the standard had actually been ratified -- the Alliance is keen to prevent a repeat performance. However, as the companies that jumped the gun benefited through extra sales, this could be difficult to prevent.

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance -- a body that certifies wireless kit as being interoperable -- 2004 will also see several key wireless developments.

Certification of equipment running the forthcoming 802.11i security standard will begin in the last quarter of this year, the Wi-Fi Alliance spokesman said. Many companies and equipment makers believe that 802.11i will be the solution to the security concerns that still dog wireless networking, despite the launch of Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) last year.