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Wi-Fi Alliance to begin certifying 802.11n gear

Next generation products will start getting certified this summer even though the technology isn't yet officially standardized.
Written by Marguerite Reardon, Contributor
Starting in June, the Wi-Fi Alliance will begin certifying products using a prestandard version of the next generation of high-speed wireless networking technology, the organization said Wednesday.

The industry group, which has certified products for all of the preceding 802.11 standards, including 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g, said last August that it would take a two-phased approach to the 802.11n certification process. The group will certify interoperability for products using the 802.11n Draft 2.0 version of the specification starting next month.

Once 802.11n becomes a full standard, the alliance will update its certification process to comply with the standard. The group said it hopes to make sure the standard products also interoperate with pre-standard products it certifies.

Products that are certified will display a new logo to let consumers know they have been certified. Products are expected to hit store shelves in July. The Wi-Fi Alliance has 11 testing labs in seven countries around the world. Testing will begin in the middle of June. All the 802.11n Draft 2.0 certified products will also interoperate with products certified for previous 802.11 standards, such as 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g.

The standard, which has been batted around for more than two years, was supposed to be finalized by early 2007. But the process has been delayed, and a final standard won't likely be completed until 2008 at the earliest. Meanwhile, many companies have already begun selling prestandard 802.11n equipment.

The Wi-Fi Alliance doesn't typically certify products before a standard is adopted, but representatives for the group say that getting interoperable products out on the market is very important.

"802.11n will offer up to five times the throughput and twice the range of existing Wi-Fi technology, which will make it ideal for enabling multimedia applications throughout the home," said Karen Hanley, senior director of marketing for the Wi-Fi Alliance. "So it's important to get products on the market that will work together so that consumers can get the technology they need to extend their home networks."

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