802.11n Standard Unlikely Until 2008

A backlog of almost 12,000 comments on the first draft of the proposed 802.11n standard is pushing back the second draft, originally planned for late fall of this year. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) said late last week that it is likely that the second draft would not appear until January 2007.

The delay means that the final standard may not be approved until 2008, industry insiders say. While approximately half of the comments had to do with editorial changes needed in the document, the remaining 6,000 or so comments may lead to changes that put some of the pre-802.11n hardware in danger of being incompatible with the final standard.

PC manufacturers like Dell have included compatibility with the draft specification in some of their laptops, and Belkin, D-Link, Linksys and Netgear have all begun manufacturing pre-802.11n compliant equipment and accessories.

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A task force within the IEEE has been slowly moving through all the comments, however it says the procedure is a "tedious and time-consuming process." The pushed back deadline should give the group enough time to catch up.

Several issues remain, including agreement on a method to combine wireless channels to increase throughput and conserve power, along with issues regarding MIMO products from different vendors working poorly together. Still, device makers are optimistic that this issues will be remedied in the coming months.

Some even said the issue over the delay and surrounding problems is overblown, and asserted that the proposed wireless standard is in no danger.

Those wanting to use the pre-802.11n equipment should be buying equipment from the same vendor until the standard is finalized, companies say, acknowledging interoperability issues.

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