802.11n Wi-Fi debacle finally over

The IEEE has finally ratified the 802.11n, a mere seven years after work first started on the Wi-Fi standard.

802.11n Wi-Fi debacle finally over

The ratification means that wireless router buyers can finally rest assured that 802.11n kit will remain compatible with future equipment based on the standard.

802.11n routers have been sold in various guises over the years, under both “pre-n” and “draft-n” labels. In 2007 the Wi-Fi alliance grew so frustrated with the slow rate of progress that it decided to start certifying equipment based on the second draft of 802.11n.

As late as August this year, router manufacturers were telling PC Pro that the standard was still “a mile away” from being complete. “From our perspective we are still far away from having a standard,” Jorg Andreas, pre-sales engineer at Buffalo told us. “The next upcoming step would be a 450Mbits/sec or 600Mbits/sec draft 3 [specification] instead of having a standard.”

However, now it appears the IEEE has finally decided to lay the standard to rest. Although no official announcement has been made on the IEEE website, the chairman of the 802.11n Task Group, Bruce Kraemer, has sent a message to wireless chip manufacturers confirming the standard has been approved.

The completion of 802.11n will lead to debate over the role of the IEEE in setting future Wi-Fi standards. Several router manufacturers have privately expressed dismay over the length of the 802.11n ratification process and the damage to consumer confidence such uncertainty created.

At least two router manufacturers have told PC Pro that the IEEE could be sidelined in the development of future standards.

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