'G' Spec Nears Completion
Draft 8.2 of the 802.11g standard has just been put forward to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) for final ratification. But the chair of the 802.11g working group says it is impossible to tell how well products using earlier versions of the wireless LAN specification will work with equipment based on the new spec.
In a meeting last week, the 802.11g working group agreed to wrap up its work on the technical aspects of the specification [ed. note: as opposed to... color, font-size?] which has a maximum data transfer rate of 54 Mbit/s running over the 2.4GHz band. The IEEE is expected to vote on the standard on June 12.
However, there is already a rash of products on the market using "pre-G" versions of the specification. In fact, Dell'Oro Group says that this nearly-g equipment made up 29 percent of SOHO (small-office/home-office) sales in the first quarter of this year (see Dell'Oro: 802.11 Kit up 1%).
Matthew Shoemake [ed. note: We leave off the last "r" for savings!], the chair of the g working group, is extremely cautious about making any predictions on how well these earlier products will work with kit using the baked standard.
"It's impossible for me to say… No one knows exactly how other people's 802.11g systems are architected," he informates Unstrung.
Successful interoperability will depend on how early a version of the spec chipmakers used when developing their products. Shoemake notes that there haven't been any technical changes to the g spec since mid-April, when the working group made some changes to try and eliminate the interoperability problems between the established 802.11b standard (11-Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) and the early variants of g (see Interop Woes Smite 802.11g).
Software upgrades may be the order of the day. Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) and others have previously issued upgrade code to bring early chipsets in line with IEEE g drafts, so it's possible that any changes that need to be administered could be dealt with that way.
However, although the IEEE is expected to ratify the standard in early June, there are still a few votes to go and an outside chance that things won't go as smoothly as planned, according to Shoemake. "It's happened before," he comments, wrily.
— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung