Smart antenna technology, the foundation of the 802.11n 2.0 draft standard, has been utilized for decades by the military. But when applying this technology to enterprise and consumer grade APs, it’s not as simple as bolting a smart antenna onto existing WiFi access points due to the requirement for tight integration between the RF and baseband sections in the upfront design and standards process. While you’d have to be an antenna connoisseur to appreciate the differences between beamforming and the various flavors of Multiple-in-Multiple-out (MIMO) algorithms, we can all benefit from the time and effort that companies like Cisco have invested over the last 7 years to get this technology embedded into currently-shipping products. So the recent ratification of 802.11n as a full fledged standard that is completely compatible with already-deployed 802.11n 2.0 draft-certified devices, is worth a tip of the hat to all those who helped make it happen. 802.11n is a key wireless technology that is significantly improving the performance and reliability of the user experience.
In September the IEEE will close the final chapter on a standards ratification process that will have lasted almost exactly seven years. The IEEE will ratify the 802.11n standard for high-speed wireless, removing the final hurdle for adoption by even the most conservative of organization. Of course, many organizations have already developed quite a kinship with the standard that delivers wireless performance on par with wired networks. However, questions remain as to how to proceed now that the standard is approaching ratification. Since the introduction of the first enterprise-class Wi-Fi certified access point two years ago, Cisco has partnered with over 6,000 companies to deliver 802.11n solutions. From this experience, Cisco has developed a checklist of best practices to help companies navigate the path forward with a final, ratified 802.11n standard.
1.) Don’t worry! If you’ve deployed 802.11n draft 2.0 equipment today, your investment is protected. Draft 2.0-certified equipment is fully compliant with the final 802.11n standard and will be grandfathered in to receive final standard certification for interoperability from the Wi-Fi Alliance. Client devices that are draft 2.0 certified are also fully compatible with the final standard.
When was the last time it took you seven years to complete a project? I’d venture a guess that for most of us, a seven year time horizon to do anything seems like a pretty long time. Yet, in just shy of a month the IEEE will close the final chapter on a standards ratification process that will have lasted almost exactly seven years. The IEEE will ratify the 802.11n standard for high-speed wireless, removing the final hurdle for adoption by even the most conservative of enterprise. Of course, many enterprises have already developed quite a kinship with the standard that delivers wireless performance on par with wired networks. Still, the ratification of the standard paves the way for broad scale adoption and perhaps, just as importantly, allows the standards body and participating vendors to move on to the next phases of innovation. Read More »
It now appears inevitable that 802.11n will be ratified by the IEEE before the end of this year! The expectation by most everyone is that it will be approved at the next IEEE Standards Board meeting on Sept 11th, 2009. It’s a long time coming, but when it does happen it will close the door on any possibility of compatibility or hardware upgrade concerns related to 802.11n draft 2.0 products and the eventual 802.11n standard. This will ease a concern for customers considering 11n technology. To be fair, this concern has significantly decreased over time, but definitely still exists with a large number of customers.The risk of compatibility issues between draft 2.0 and the final 11n standard was a relatively strong barrier for 11n adoption about two years ago. In fact, vendors in the consumer space were delivering “11n” products that in many cases were not compatible — irritating for consumers and a non-starter for most businesses. The Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) helped bring sanity to the madness around interoperability nightmares by introducing a certification program in June 2007 based on the draft 2.0 version of the 11n standard. This certification program is a key factor behind the success of this technology to date — especially in businesses. As of today, 653 products have gone through this certification. The WFA put out a statement earlier today that all previously certified draft 2.0 products will be eligible without retesting to use the approved 802.11n logo for an updated certification program per the final 11n standard since these products meet all core requirements — again, good news for anyone concerned about interoperability. Read More »