Wi-Fi alliance to certify pre-802.11n kit

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Wi-Fi alliance to certify pre-802.11n kit

Emerging Wi-Fi standard gets boost.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has promised to certify interoperability of Wi-Fi products that include features from the unratified IEEE 802.11n standard in the first half of 2007.

The IEEE recently updated its estimated timeline for ratification of a full 802.11n standard, and is now targeting the first quarter of 2008 for final approval.

However, Wi-Fi products implementing features from the draft specification are in the market now, and analysts forecast that tens of millions of pre-standard devices will ship in 2007.

Wi-Fi Alliance managing director Frank Hanzlik said: "While we are committed to supporting a full 802.11n standard when it is available, pre-standard products are reaching a level of maturity and there is enough market uptake that a certification program makes sense for the industry."

The Wi-Fi Alliance expects that a second phase of its 802.11n ratification programme, introduced at the time of final standard ratification, will support compatibility between Wi-Fi certified pre-standard products and those certified to the full standard.

"The ratified IEEE 802.11n is likely to include a larger set of features and will be a fully-reviewed standard," said Hanzlik.

"We believe the maturity of the baseline features in the pre-standard certification diminishes the risk that products will not comply with IEEE 802.11n when it is ratified."

Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Research, added: "This approach makes sense in light of the recent schedule change from IEEE.

"With this interim interoperability programme, we achieve a technology advancement to fill the gap until the 802.11n standard and associated Wi-Fi certification is finally approved.

"With Wi-Fi Alliance backing, this interim certification can achieve industry interoperability, something the alternative approaches to date were unable to guarantee."
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