Interim WLAN QoS Standard To Be Released

Wi-Fi Alliance will release interim standard to encourage voice-over-WLAN and streaming media.

September 3, 2004

2 Min Read
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The Wi-Fi Alliance will release an interim standard next week for quality of service (QoS) over wireless LANs that is aimed at fostering voice and streaming multimedia applications, it was widely reported this week.

The interim standard -- dubbed Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) -- provides prioritization of packets that stream over wireless LANs, a necessity for applications such as voice and multimedia. The interim specification is generally considered to be a subset of the IEEE's 802.11e QoS standard. That standard isn't expected to be approved until next year.

"WMM will allow you to say, 'this packet is voice, so put it ahead of HTTP traffic,'" said Phil Solis, an analyst for ABI Research, said of WMM. That ensures the quality of data, such as voice, that must be received in the same order in which it was sent.

Other interim specifications for QoS have long been available, such as one from voice-over-WLAN vendor SpectraLink, but Solis said WMM should supplant those specs.

"SpectraLink has said that it will adopt 802.11e," Solis said. "So it's almost certain SpectraLink will adopt WMM."The second part of the forthcoming 802.11e standard, which provides for scheduling of packets sent over a WLAN, won't be part of the WMM, Solis said. But WMM still will be enough to encourage VoWLAN for both enterprises and home users and media streaming in the home, he said.

"The first application we'll see is voice-over-Wi-Fi in the enterprise -- we've been seeing that already," Solis said. "But there'll be consumer Voice-over-Wi-Fi and media." He noted, for instance, that consumer VoIP vendor Vonage has been actively working to embed its capabilities into home routers and other equipment.

Even though the Wi-Fi Alliance is a trade organization that certifies interoperability and not a standards-setting body, this isn't the first time it Alliance has rolled out interim standards before the IEEE acted. It took a similar approach with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), which was a subset of the 802.11i security standard.

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