The IEEE standards group has finally ratified 802.11n, a standard that has been stuck in limbo since 2006 when it first entered draft status. Draft N devices delivered on the promise of higher speeds and better range, but despite assurances, many feared compatibility would be an issue down the road.
The extended delay in approving the standard came from competing “pre-N” technologies from Atheros and Broadcom, which led to a long and drawn out debate over the form of the final spec. The delay led the IEEE to certify Draft 2.0 802.11n devices in March 2007, with the understanding that these would be upgradable through firmware to the final standard. To accomplish this, a promise was made to make no major changes to the spec, or the certification process.
802.11n has seen a high level of adoption within consumer electronics and networking equipment, but companies are typically slow to adopt anything bearing the title “draft”. Keep an eye out for new firmware and drivers for your 802.11n hardware in the days and weeks to come. Officials from the IEEE plan to publish the final standard sometime in mid-October. I guess the time has finally come to look forward to the next big leap in Wi-Fi speeds. I wonder how many letters of the alphabet they plan to skip this time?
Have you been waiting for the Wi-Fi Alliances blessing to buy new hardware?