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IEEE ratifies 802.11n Wi-Fi standard after 7 years

updated 05:25 pm EDT, Fri September 11, 2009

IEEE approves 802.11n at last

The IEEE standards group today officially ratified 802.11n, the most recent standard for Wi-Fi. The move officially takes the wireless spec out of the draft status it has been in since 2006 and lets companies develop 11n hardware knowing that it will work properly with any device that supports the technology. Officials plan to publish the final standard in mid-October.

The extended delay in approving the standard, which was first developed in 2002, stemmed primarily from competing "pre-N" technology from Atheros and Broadcom and their resistance to finding a common ground for the standard. While this was eventually settled, the competition led to the IEEE agreeing to certify so-called Draft 2.0 802.11n devices in March 2007 with the promise that these would eventually be upgradable to the final standard. The group went so far as to promise no major changes in 802.11n or its certification process.

The standard is already found in most modern computers and a small number of handheld devices and theoretically connects at 300Mbps, or about six times the peak speed of the more ubiquitous 802.11g format. Some of this speed comes from Multiple In, Multiple Out (MIMO) antenna arrays that piece together an incoming signal as it's bounced around an environment, improving not only the maximum speed but also the usable range.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. BurpetheadX

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jul 2002

    +3

    Wow

    That took ridiculously forever.

  1. jondesu

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2008

    +1

    Useless

    Step-by-step guide to declaring your organization thoroughly obsolete.

    Step 1: Announce new standard.

    Step 2: Finally ratify new standard years after the industry has moved on.

    Step 3: There's no step 3. There is no step 3...

    jW

  1. slapppy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2008

    -1

    Longhorn

    These guys probably worked the same schedule as Microsoft Longhorn to release.

  1. thibaulthalpern

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2008

    +5

    Competition

    What I'm going to say is a little off-topic but I think worth it:

    Lots of Americans like to think that competition in the market place is the best and fastest solution. They have the simple idea that consumers drive the market, that if consumers don't want a product a product dies off. Well, let's take a look at the draft-N business. Here is a good example where competition slows down progress.

    Now, I'm not saying the monopolies are without question good, or that competition without question is bad. What I am saying is that it isn't a hard, fast clear picture.

    Government-run doesn't necessarily mean bad or inefficient; competition doesn't necessarily mean fast or good.

  1. thibaulthalpern

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2008

    -1

    Competition

    What I'm going to say is a little off-topic but I think worth it:

    Lots of Americans like to think that competition in the market place is the best and fastest solution. They have the simple idea that consumers drive the market, that if consumers don't want a product a product dies off. Well, let's take a look at the draft-N business. Here is a good example where competition slows down progress.

    Now, I'm not saying the monopolies are without question good, or that competition without question is bad. What I am saying is that it isn't a hard, fast clear picture.

    Government-run doesn't necessarily mean bad or inefficient; competition doesn't necessarily mean fast or good.

  1. slapppy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2008

    -1

    I heard you

    I heard you the first time. ;-)

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -1

    Re: Competition

    Except you're wrong. Competition had nothing to do with slowing down the standards process. And gov't would have no way of controlling it, either, since the standards board is not a US-based consortium. (In fact, politics play such a role in the standards making decisions its really sad - just look at all the hoopla over MS's open document format being approved).

    Once someone came up with a workable standard, the manufacturers moved in due to competition. It was only in the very beginnings of the 'n' hardware that there were issues with compatibility. But the manufacturers worked through that, knowing they needed to work together. And they also pushed the standards people to allow them to use 'draft 802.11n' once a mostly complete draft was done, so consumers would know their products followed the same specs. On top of that, the manufacturers also agreed to make sure their products would be compatible with the final version of the spec.

    The fact is that it takes a long time to approve a specification. It doesn't matter whether it's one company doing it or not. And for something as important as a wireless specification, which needs to take into account various country's rules and regulations regarding the airwaves (think 150 FCCs), security, stability, etc, it will take time.

    This isn't a case where you had 15 manufacturers with 15 different wireless versions. Remember the good ol' early days of modems, where 14.4 was the standard, and different companies had their own higher-speed hardware that only worked with other versions? Or when 33 kbps was the max, and there were two completely different 'standards' for getting 56k? That isn't what we had here at all.

    As jondesu said, the industry already has moved to the standard long before it was 'ratified'. So what did it hurt?

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