August 14, 2006 3:34 PM PDT

New Wi-Fi standard delayed again

The long-awaited next-generation Wi-Fi standard has been delayed again and won't likely be ratified until sometime in 2008.

The new standard that will allow notebook users to connect to wireless access points at much faster speeds than is currently available was expected to be finalized later this year.

In January, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) approved a draft version of the standard called 802.11n, after much controversy and infighting among chipmakers. A second draft was due for the standard by late fall of this year, but now a new draft won't likely be ready until January 2007. This could push back the final ratification of the standard until 2008.

The delay in adopting a standard has been caused by the nearly 12,000 changes to the draft that have been submitted to the standards group.

"The current draft has generated a lot of comments," said Rolf De Vegt, senior director of business development for Airgo Networks and a member of the IEEE 802.11n working group. "I think this proves that draft 1.0 wasn't really mature. And now it just takes time to deal with all the comments. The working group should be able to vote on the new draft with changes in early 2007."

Meanwhile, manufacturers looking to get a jump on the market have already released products, which they claim are compliant with draft 1.0 of the 802.11n standard. Companies, such as Dell, have already announced notebooks that will be outfitted with draft standard 802.11n wireless cards. Wireless routing companies such as Netgear and Linksys also have released draft 802.11n products.

Craig Mathias, an analyst at Farpoint Group, said it's unlikely that these draft 802.11n products will comply with the eventual standard once it's completed. He doesn't believe that these products will be able to be upgraded to the standard either. But he said these products may work fine for consumers who only plan on using the equipment in their homes.

"It's silly to think that the first draft n version would be the eventual standard," he said. "But that is all right for consumers who just want to use the equipment at home. They don't have to worry about compatibility or even upgrading their old equipment."

Mathias also said he doesn't expect the delay in the standard to stall the market.

"It's better to make sure the standard is done right," he said. "Eventually, 802.11n will be the only Wi-Fi flavor that matters. Once it's out no one will care about 802.11a, b or g. That's why it's important to get broad industry support."

See more CNET content tagged:
IEEE 802.11n, standard, draft, Wi-Fi, equipment

5 comments

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WHo Benefits From this Delay??
This is the question the Service Providers and customers need to be asking the manufacturers of these Pre-N chips and those who are leading the drive to deploy WiMAX mobile systems in the market.
One might notice that Intel, though a leader in the initial go around for the 802.11n standard and a driver behind the break away effort to stop a very successful effort by Airgo to provide a solid standard chip in this space is no longer mentioned in any of these articles.
The Atheros and Broadcom of the world have picked up this misguided effort, providing cover for and freeing Intel to focus on its WiMAX plans, and are creating a major problem for all service providers and customer who want to be able to use their standards based (802.11a/b/g) Wireless devices both at home and while Mobile/Portable on these new Metro Area Wireless Mesh networks.

Keep in mind that a solid 802.11n product interoperating with the ubiquitos 802.11a/b/g radios would effectively obviate the need for many of the features a WiMAX product brings to a Customer Access device.

The WiFi Alliance should be raising hell over this delay and should come out and state that non of these Pre-N devices meet any 802.11xxx interoperability standards.

Jacomo
Posted by jacomo (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
except for one feature: CARRIER PROFITS
the last mile is free
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
Link Flag
This Really Sucks
I see we are still acting like a third world country. It's pretty bad that some countries with less technology than we have are running higher speed broadband services.
Posted by domcelyea (14 comments )
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Committees
This is what happens when you let everyone have a say in a
process. It takes forever because every last detail has to be debated
ad nauseum. Meanwhile days, weeks, months, and years go by. All
the while they could have ratified a decent standard and gone to
work on a better technology that would have been ready by the
time this committe finishes their process on the first standard.
What's the point?
Posted by Lucky Lou (88 comments )
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expect the carriers to block final 802.11N standard
the manufacturers are already cranking out their doom.

Once a radio has software controlled hardware with multiple antennas additional changes will be driver and firmware upgrades anyhoo.

The key point RADIO WAVES DO NOT INTERFERE WITH EACH OTHER. infinite bandwidth is possible once the receiver can apply digital intelligence to the signal input matrix. and since the radios cooperate, the more nodes in the mesh, the faster the speed becomes.

it's movable type all over again.
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
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