Draft What?

10:50 PM -- I have no idea what it means to be compliant with a draft IEEE standard. But I do know what it means in terms of performance, or more specifically, the lack thereof – I spent last weekend running benchmarks.

I have taken serious issue with claims of “compliance” with the draft 802.11n standard. First of all, the IEEE really frowns on such claims, with a very clear notice to that effect on the cover of the draft itself (“Because this is an unapproved draft, this document must not be utilized for any conformance/compliance purposes”). But no matter what, a draft is just that -- a work in progress, not something suitable for publication or the basis for next-generation products. Common sense, right?

So, this past weekend I got a bunch of “draft compliant” products and ran an extensive series of benchmarks testing both range-vs.-throughput and interoperability. The results weren’t pretty, with this new crop of draft-compliant (again, whatever that means) products turning in a pretty poor performance. You can read all about it in the Farpoint Group Tech Note.

Note, there’s nothing wrong with MIMO technology -- indeed, the non-compliant Linksys SRX 400 router and client I used turned in a great performance, so much so that I felt like we were going backwards with the new stuff. The bottom line: I would suggest that if compliance with 802.11n is a requirement, it would be best to wait for the standard itself, and ignore the drafts.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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