Wi-Fi Alliance to Announce Interim Multimedia Spec

The Wi-Fi Alliance is expected to announce next week at the Intel Developer Forum a preliminary 802.11e standard that will enable early deployment of wireless VOIP systems and other applications that require quality-of-service features.

Next week, the Wi-Fi Alliance will release Wi-Fi Multimedia, or WMM, an interim standard that will provide early quality-of-service functionality for multimedia equipment based on the emerging 802.11e specification.

Wireless chip companies and equipment makers are expected to announce support for WMM on Sept. 8 at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The standard will provide a stable interoperable solution to allow early deployment of wireless voice-over-IP phones and other products that require the seamless transmission of multimedia packet data, sources said.

The path toward 802.11e will likely mirror the rollout of the 802.11i security specification, which used an intermediate standard—Wi-Fi Protected Access —as the technical foundation for a new class of products. On Wednesday, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced the first eight products that were certified for interoperability under the new 802.11i standard, which was officially ratified in late July.

The 802.11e specification is not expected to be formally ratified until early next year, although a draft of the specification began circulating in 2001. Broadcom Corp. began implementing an early version of what it called 802.11e QOS enhancements last year, in a technology dubbed "Xpress."

The announcement of Wi-Fi Multimedia is expected to be led by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the industry body responsible for certifying the compatibility of various Wi-Fi products from different manufacturers. Representatives from Atheros Communications Inc. and rival Broadcom declined to comment in advance of the Wi-Fi Alliances announcement. The Wi-Fi Alliance, meanwhile, has trademarked the term "WMM."

One product, the Atheros AR5513 802.11a/b/g component, has already been labeled by Atheros as compliant.

Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced the first products that have been deemed compatible with the so-called WPA2 specification, or 802.11i. The difference between WPA and WPA2 is the use of the Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm.

"Enterprise security needs are not a stationary target, and the Wi-Fi Alliance is committed to certification programs that meet evolving security requirements," said Frank Hanzlik, the Wi-Fi Alliances managing director, in a statement. "WPA2 is ideally suited for enterprises in both the public and private sectors. Products that are certified for WPA2 give IT managers the assurance that the technology meets interoperability standards and in turn, helps them manage support and deployment costs."

The products that have won WPA2 certification were part of the "early adopters" submitted to the Wi-Fi Alliance for testing, and formed part of the original interoperability testbed, manufacturers said.

WPA2 certifications were handed out to a dual-band adapter and tri-band access point from Atheros, two 802.11a/g reference designs from Broadcom, the Cisco Aironet 1200 access point, and Intels PRO/Wireless 2915 network card, as well as products from Instant802 Networks and Realtek.


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