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802.11n Wi-Fi to be standardised... at last

IEEE finally catches up with World+Dog

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It's only taken the best part of decade, but 802.11n Wi-Fi looks finally like becoming a standard this coming September.

Official standard, that is. While IEEE Task Group n - aka TGn - members have been arguing and arguing over the minutiae of the fast wireless networking specifications, manufacturers have been offering 802.11n products for some time.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, the organisation behind the Wi-Fi brand, has been certifying those products as interoperable with each other for almost as long.

So 802.11n is a standard and the IEEE is really only just catching up with the rest of the planet.

802.11n NOT draft

Exploratory work on the successor to 802.11a, b and g began in 2002. The IEEE's formal effort to knock these early suggestions into shape as a publishable specification was founded on 11 September 2003.

in the intervening years, we've seen the spec develop into an almost-complete 'draft' standard... only to become mired in arguments over the details. In March 2007, Draft 2.0 followed Draft 1.0, bringing with it a spec sufficiently stable for vendors to use to develop and test products. At the time, chip and device makers were happy enough to proceed on the assumption that support for the final, standard version of the specification would require just a firmware tweak.

Since then the TGn has published seven more draft versions of the specification. Draft 8.0 was approved in March 2009, but even that wasn't quite right for some participants, and Draft 9.0 was proposed to (hopefully) accommodate the remaining differences.

Well, all but those that prompted the rush of Drafts seen since then: Draft 9.0 on 4 April, Draft 10.0 on 15 May, Draft 11.0 on 5 June and a revised Draft 11.0 on 23 June.

According to insiders, this latest iteration has hit the spot for all, allowing the TGn to submit it to the IEEE for formal ratification as 802.11n.

This month, it will be submitted to the IEEE's 802.11 Working Group, which is expected to approve its ratification. That will take place in September if the organisation's bureaucrats are willing.

Then they can do it all over again, this time with the 802.11ad, designed to deliver even higher, Gigabit speeds in the 60GHz band... ®

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