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Wi-Fi group launches 802.11n compatibility brand

Interoperability testing to kick off next month

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Wi-Fi overseer the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) will in June begin testing pre-standard next-generation 802.11n wireless networking kit to make sure the products all work with each other, the organisation said today.

The WFA announced earlier this year that it would begin interoperability tests despite the fact that 802.11n has yet to be formalised by standards-setting body the IEEE. Draft 1 of the 802.11n specification was held to be be near enough what the final standard will be for vendors to ship product based on it, and with Draft 2 recently agreed, support for the ratified specification is seen to be just a firmware update away.

Indeed, the WFA is basing its testing on Draft 2. As yet there are not Draft 2-based products on the market, but the likes of Netgear, Belkin and D-Link have promised Draft 2 firmware updates in Q2, and with the WFA's announcement those are likely to appear promptly.

How will consumers be able to tell whether the product they're planning to buy is certified for its compatibility with other 802.11n kit? The WFA also today showed off the stamp it will allow vendors who get its thumbs-up to put on their boxes:

Wi-Fi Alliance 802.11a/b/g/n certification logo
The Wi-Fi Alliance's 802.11n interoperability certification stamp

802.11n uses new techniques to extend the range of Wi-Fi networks by up to two times and the data speed by a factor of five over standard 802.11g. Those are best-case scenarios - real world ranges and speeds will be lower.

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