The Shift to 802.11n Accelerates

Carl Weinschenk
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The Wi-Fi Alliance reports that more than 1,100 products have been given the seal of approval a year after the launch of the certification process.


The breakdown is interesting. It includes 127 phones, which InformationWeek says is 20 percent of all of those certified by the Alliance during that period. "Wi-Fi Certified" status for 802.11n also has been awarded to 251 consumer electronics products and 157 pieces of enterprise-level gear. The story ends with the prediction from ABI Research that 60 percent of Wi-Fi products sold this year will include ".n" capabilities.


Network World offers a comprehensive overview of the growth of 802.11n. The education and medical markets are leading the parade. With an exception for the recession, the progress of 802.11n-as tracked by IDC-has been steady and impressive, according to the story:

Over the last four quarters, through June 2010, shipments of enterprise-class 11abg access points in North America have fallen to 212,500 units from 288,000. During that same period, 11n shipments, hampered by the economy initially dropped from 190,00 in the third quarter of 2009 to a low of 167,300 in the fourth quarter, before rising in the second quarter of 2010 to 250,400. The fourth quarter marked the first quarter where 11n shipments topped 11abg, and by nearly 40,000 units.

In total, IDC says that 520,400 802.11n access points were sold in 2009 and 422,300 during the first half of 2010.


Broadband Reports reports on one place where 802.11n still has a ways to go: 802.11n is not yet natively supported by Verizon FiOS. It is possible for a subscriber to jury-rig an ".n" setup themselves by linking his or her own ".n" router to the FiOS gateway. But, the site says, Verizon earlier this year promised to support the protocol itself beginning in August, but the functionality still is not available.


It's customary in high tech for future thinkers to move on to the next thing before the technology that they have spent years preparing is fully deployed. Thus, while 802.11n still is in heavy deployment phase, ZDNet points out that work is getting serious on the next version of Wi-Fi, which this piece says promises speeds as high as 1 Gigabit per second. Actually, there are three candidates: 802.11ac, 802.11ad and Wireless Gigabit (WiGig). The posting provides good background on each.


Actually, there is a fourth potential next step that is not mentioned in the ZDNet story, which is the white space approach approved by the FCC late last month. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has started the process of bringing white space. which was made available by the relocation of broadcast channels, under the aegis of 802.11 as 802.11af.


Nobody needs to be told that there is a tremendous amount of activity in the wireless sector. That activity is accelerating the rollout of 802.11n, and leading planners to look beyond.

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