Motorola shuns draft-n Wi-Fi equipment

Company claims enterprises won't adopt next-generation Wi-Fi before 2009, so it plans to wait until the final standard has been set

Motorola will not produce any next-generation enterprise Wi-Fi equipment until the 802.11n standard is properly ratified, the company revealed on Thursday.

Speaking to ZDNet.co.uk at the Wireless Event in London, the company's senior product marketing manager, Angelo Lamme, said that Motorola did not want its customers to buy equipment that could end up incompatible with the final version of the standard — due to be ratified by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as late as 2009.

"We're going to wait until the final standard has been set," said Lamme, who joined Motorola recently after it acquired mobile data-capture specialists Symbol Technologies. "It doesn't make sense to ship yet as enterprises won't adopt [802.11n] that early, and we don't want our customers to end up with non-compliant, pre-standard equipment."

The new generation of Wi-Fi promises improved bandwidth and range, and many vendors — including Intel — have already started shipping products that claim to conform to the 802.11n standard. However, the standard is still in a draft stage that has seen multiple delays due to industry in-fighting, and could easily change before it is ultimately ratified by the IEEE. The Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry body, is to start certifying draft-n equipment next month, even though it has admitted there is no guarantee that equipment currently available will be interoperable with the finalised standard.

Lamme suggested that the Wi-Fi Alliance's decision to press ahead was aimed at reassuring the consumer sector. Dubbing the move "very confusing to the market", he warned that enterprises choosing to adopt currently available 802.11n risked locking themselves into technology that could be redundant within the next couple of years, and promised that Motorola would build equipment only on properly certified chipsets.