September is slated to bring the first comprehensive look at what is likely to be the future of Wi-Fi: 802.11n.
In Berlin on Sept. 13, the IEEE 802.11n Task Group (TGn) will consider official proposals from numerous companies on what the specifications should be for the next-generation standard, which promises speeds fast enough for an influx of new wireless applications.
Although a ratified standard isnt expected until late 2006, the first wave of 802.11n products could arrive in the first quarter of 2005. “Theres a good chance youll see products by then that will be software upgradable to the n standard,” said Mary Cramer, strategic marketing manager at Agere Systems.
In the past, users—and consumers with home networks in particular—have purchased early products well in advance of ratification of Wi-Fi standards.
Agere Systems founded TGn Sync, one of the most powerful consortiums yet to deliver a proposal. Cisco, Intel, Nokia, Nortel, Philips, Sony and many more companies are members.
TGn Syncs proposal gives a glimpse of how much impact the 802.11n standard may have on everything from digital homes to wireless offices.
“Were focusing on 40-MHz channel bandwidth [double the current 20-MHz bandwidth], backward compatibility with a, b and g, and shooting for a data rate of 250 Mbps with actual throughput of around 175 Mbps,” Cramer said.
To put that in perspective, 802.11g has a quoted data rate of 54 Mbps, but actual data rates are about half that.