New standards in the works for WiFi networking

The 802.11 family of standards is a living document, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is working on a handful of amendments to provide additional functionality and services over the next couple of years.

'The biggest IEEE standard in the next year or so is 802.11n,' said Frank Hanzlik, managing director of the WiFi Alliance, which promotes and certifies products for compliance with the standards. 'It's going to be at least four times as fast as the standards we have today.'

That means a real-world throughput of at least 100 Mbps. (WiFi vendors today already tout products that go more than 100 Mbps using nonstandard means, but those products never actually operate that fast. See the GCN Lab's review on Page 34.) A draft standard of 802.11n was approved in January and final approval is expected late this year or early next. The technology has strong vendor support and prestandard hardware is in development.

Should you wait for 802.11n before deploying WiFi on your network?

'I don't think so,' Hanzlik said. Current speeds (nominally 54 Mbps for 802.11g; no more than half that in actual use) are adequate for most uses today, he said. The new standard will provide future-proofing for users who want to keep their capacity ahead of the curve.

Sources: IEEE and WiFi Alliance

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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