Sunday, September 13, 2009

IEEE Finally Ratifies 802.11n

From the press release:

11 September 2009 —The IEEE today announced that its Standards Board has ratified the IEEE 802.11n™-2009 amendment, defining mechanisms that provide significantly improved data rates and ranges for wireless local area networks (WLANs). This new amendment to the IEEE 802.11 base standard is designed to help the data communications industry address the escalating demands placed on enterprise, home and public WLANs with the rise of higher-bandwidth file transfers and next-generation multimedia applications. WLANs based on IEEE 802.11 are widely deployed, with more than 1 million units shipping per day.

The tortuous process that finally resulted in this approval took ridiculously long. The first feasibility studies began in 2002, with a formal Task Group formed in 2003. Indeed, this approval is so mind-bogglingly overdue that it is unlikely to make any difference whatsoever; wireless hardware vendors started producing devices based on various drafts of 802.11n in 2004—5 years ago. In 2006, the Wi-Fi Alliance finally gave up on the plodding IEEE and started certifying devices for 802.11n before the standard was ratified.

Coincidentally, my personal 802.11g router/access point recently died and I placed an order for an 802.11n replacement before I heard the news. I’ll expect a firmware update if the final version made any incompatible changes with whatever draft my device was certified against.