Does WiFi Still Matter?
That core mission is the specification and certification of interoperability in wireless LANs. The Alliance has, more than any other factor saved 802.11, and it was responsible for the clear success of wireless LANs in both residential and enterprise settings. Today "WLAN" and "WiFi" are synonymous (a trademark issue for the Alliance, but I digress).
Take a look at the box when you’re buying that new router or client card. There’s a good chance the WiFi logo is missing. This is not to say that the device won’t work with other WiFi-approved products, just that no one has certified this interoperability. For example, I recently tested a large number of MIMO-based ("Draft n” and otherwise) WLAN products for rate-vs.-range throughput and interoperability. Not one was WiFi approved and, yes, all were a lot faster than .11g.
Without the WiFi Alliance, or the efforts of similar organization, the WLAN business could quickly become a chaotic brew of incompatibilities frustrating consumers and professionals alike. The Alliance is, of course, a trade association, not a government bureau so its enforcement powers are quite limited. But perhaps we should look for the logo before we buy that new wireless product. The alternative could be painful.
— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung