Products based on the speedier next-generation 802.11n wireless standard are on their way. The Wi-Fi Alliance recently announced the first products certified to the standard, as well as a new logo and test suite to ramp up the certification process later this summer. Testing to the 802.11n draft 2.0 spec is set to begin in June, with final ratification expected by early 2009.
However, it remains to be seen if these products can play nicely with legacy clients or if 802.11n is better as an overlay build, with organizations transitioning users to the new standard as they phase out older clients. Architectural questions, such as centralized versus distributed 802.11n access points, channel bonding and coverage-layout approaches, remain as well.
The Wi-Fi Alliance plans to perform some backward-compati- bility tests, but certification labs are not real-world deployments and, as enterprises did with the introduction of 802.11g, we're sure to find significant problems that require driver and firmware upgrades.
Colubris Networks, Meru Networks, Trapeze Networks and Xirrus have all announced their 802.11n plans, while Aruba Networks, Cisco Systems, Extricom, Motorola and Siemens are still working on theirs. I predict that by the end of third quarter, most, if not all, of these vendors will have a story to tell. Visit the wireless channel on the NWC Daily Blog for a deeper technical look at 802.11n. /P>