A potentially important advance in Wi-Fi networking was made this week as the Wi-Fi Alliance certified its first Wi-Fi Direct products.
Several sites, such as CNET News and ZDNet provide good descriptions of Wi-Fi Direct. Until now, Wi-Fi-enabled devices had a couple of ways to connect. In "infrastructure mode," devices link to access points (APs), which send signals to a central aggregation point, to another device or elsewhere. In "ad hoc" mode, device could link to each other-but slowly, and only at close range.
Wi-Fi Direct offers the best of both worlds. It allows direct device-to-device connectivity at the speed and distance of infrastructure mode. In addition, the initial connection is made by pressing a single button. The story lists the approved products, which are from Atheros, Broadcom, Intel, Ralink and Realtek.
Network World, which pegs Wi-Fi Direct at 250 Megabits per second (Mbps), asks whether the new spec will complement or compete with Bluetooth 4.0, which it says will be available in products soon. Writer Ian Paul describes Bluetooth 4.0 and makes several comparisons.
To ZDNet's Dana Blankenhorn, the jury still is out on the importance of Wi-Fi Direct:
What it doesn't do is change the communication landscape appreciably. You still need backhaul to get a Wi-Fi signal to the Internet. Building an ad hoc network inside the coffee shop doesn't let you reach the wider world.
While that's the story now, he suggests that innovations could follow.