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IEEE Approves Initial 802.11n Spec

Honolulu — The IEEE yesterday gave its approval of Draft One of the 802.11n wireless networking specification.

The 802.11n task group voted 184 to 0 to accept the Joint Proposal. This is the first step in drawing up a final specification on which hardware vendors can base next generation Wi-Fi products. It is expected to take at least a year for the IEEE complete its work and publish the final specification.

The lack of a final design has not stopped some vendors from introducing products. In what has become common practice in the networking industry some companies have jump-started the process and rolled out “pre-802.11n” devices that use chipsets based on the previously unapproved specification. In most cases these can be upgraded to the final design through a firmware patch, said executives from Airgo, the chipset maker behind most pre-802.11n products now on the market. The Airgo chipset already uses much of what is contained in the Draft One specification.

The draft is expected to undergo several revisions during the coming year.

The 802.11n specification differs from the other varieties now being sold by specializing in multimedia, not data streaming. It has a theoretical throughput speed of 100MBps, the level needed to stream video.