Startups Cool on WMM

Startups working in the enterprise wireless LAN field don't seem too shocked and awed by the new quality of service (QOS) specification from the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The industry trade body has put together a specification for certification that it's calling wireless multimedia (WMM). The specification is based on work that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) is doing with the 802.11e specification (as yet unratified).

Initially the specification will work by prioritizing time sensitive traffic, such as voice and video, on the wireless network (called wireless media extensions).

Previously, the Wi-Fi Alliance worked up a security certification called wireless protected access (WPA), which was based on the 802.11i standard.

But while vendors were very vocal about their support of WPA, reaction from the new breed of enterprise wireless LAN startups to this potential voice-over-WLAN enabler seems more muted. While the vendors that Unstrung spoke to agreed that they will look to get certified, most already have implemented their own pre-standard QOS extensions to handle VOWLAN.

"It will be a good certification to show our voice and video capabilities in a standards compliant fashion, so we will pursue this certification in the future," says Kamal Anand, VP of marketing at Meru Networks Inc. But as Meru has said before, the firm doesn't consider the 802.11e specification as an enterprise-class offering and says much the same about WMM (see Meru Muddies 802.11e). "This is a consumer electronics focused standard," says Anand.

Airespace Inc. is looking forward to a planned update of the Wi-Fi Alliance specification that will implement changes on the one of the wireless LAN puzzle that the switch vendors don't generally control: the client.

In 2005, the Wi-Fi Alliance is planning to update the WMM test specification with an extension that aims to control the bandwidth used by clients on the network.

That will be the "real issue" according to Cohen. "Can I guarantee the bandwidth over the air?"

Such an update should help enable more tailored VOIP services, such as prioritizing phone services for certain individuals in an enterprise or even in certain areas of a corporate campus.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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