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Wireless Networking

IEEE Approves 802.11n Wi-Fi Standard 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the lightning-fast dept.
alphadogg writes "The IEEE has finally approved the 802.11n high-throughput wireless LAN standard. Bruce Kraemer, the long-time chairman of the 802.11n Task Group (part of the 802.11 Working Group, which oversees the WLAN standards), has sent out a notification to a listserv for task group members, which includes a wide range of Wi-Fi chip makers, software developers, and equipment vendors. A press release is available now as well. This process began in 2002."
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IEEE Approves 802.11n Wi-Fi Standard

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  • Umm... ok, thanks. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NitroWolf (72977) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:08PM (#29394613)

    Gee thanks. Appreciate the timely response, Bruce. I'm glad the 802.11n Task Group was so on this project that they got the 802.11n standard finally approved years after all vendors have already been making products. Yeah, thanks.

    Next time... I don't know... maybe define the standard in a reasonable time frame, not 5 years after the fact.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Brian Gordon (987471)

      It's the vendors that built products early not the IEEE that defined the standard late.

      Still, it would be nice to know what's been delaying the final approval for so long.

      • by NitroWolf (72977) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:17PM (#29394677)

        They built the products early because the IEEE was dragging their feet on the final approval. The IEEE defined the standard exceptionally late - that's WHY the vendors built early. You've got the cause and effect totally reversed.

        • by More_Cowbell (957742) * on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:44PM (#29394821) Journal
          Totally agree with you, but for me, here is the important part (emphasis mine):

          ...--will enable rollout of significantly more scalable WLANs that deliver 10-fold-greater data rates than previously defined while ensuring co-existence with legacy systems and security implementations.

          So, cool. Don't know which I'll be replacing first, my laptop with 11.n or my wireless router - but it's nice to know that any new device will work with the old. (The extra throughput would not benefit me as my cable internet is the current weak link...)

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Supergibbs (786716)
            It's great for LAN file transfers. I used to use ethernet cables to transfer large files between my laptop and desktop. Now (until HD throughput increases) I don't need to.
            • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Actual hard disk throughput is generally about 800 Mbps. Fastest 11n throughput I've seen (and I've seen many!) was about 85 Mbps. Currently the only way to even approach the rate what a SINGLE hard disk can output is to use gigabit wired ethernet.

          • by Trongy (64652) on Friday September 11, 2009 @07:14PM (#29394961)

            Co-existence means more than that. It means that your neighbour's new .11n equipment shouldn't clobber your existing .11g network. That's important to those in densely packed urban areas

          • Screw your cable link. I found N to be a great benefit when streaming HD video from my file server to my media server.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 11, 2009 @07:23PM (#29394997)

          They built the products early because the IEEE was dragging their feet on the final approval. The IEEE defined the standard exceptionally late - that's WHY the vendors built early. You've got the cause and effect totally reversed.

          And it's not like the vendors had anything to do with the delay. They certainly worked together in a harmonious fashion without trying to push their own technological agenda into the working group. /sarcasm

          Who do you think was in the IEEE effort? It was the vendors themselves. Just look at the 802.11 member list:

          http://www.ieee802.org/11/Voters/votingmembers.htm

          It was the members themselves that couldn't decide between the competing technologies (TGn Sync and WWiSE):

          http://www.wi-fiplanet.com/news/article.php/3490926
          http://www.networkworld.com/net.worker/news/2005/020705netleadside.html

          The IEEE is not some ivory tower institution sending down standards from the clouds like Zeus and his lightning bolts. It is made up of members, and those members are sponsored by their employers to work on these standards (and there may even be a few "independents" as well).

          The IEEE took a long time to come to a consensus because the vendors (through their paid employees) took a long time to come to a consensus.

      • >>>It's the vendors that built products early not the IEEE that defined the standard late.

        That happened during the 90s as well. Companies got tired of waiting for the IEEE, so they just ran-off and created their own 19.2k, 28.8k, 33.6k and 56k modems using proprietary designs. They made these modems flash-based so users could later upgrade the modems to be compliant with the late-released spec. Technology moves faster than the specification groups can keep up.

        • by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:00PM (#29395131) Homepage Journal

          You meant the ITU, right? IEEE is an entirely different organization.

          The other thing was the context was a market where there already were a lot of non-ITU standards. V.32 came about as an effort to get modem manufacturers to unify on a common standard after virtually everyone did their own (entirely different, unrelated to any ITU effort) thing to get to 9600bps. Some modified V.29 to make it kinda full duplex, others did OFDM, others came up with even more exotic systems.

          V.32 was finally released, and quickly followed by V.32bis. At this point:

          - Some companies just stretched V.32 a little bit more and came up with V.32terbo. Nobody did this in anticipation of an ITU standard though, obviously, they'd have been happy if it had been supported.

          - Hayes and USR, on opposite sides, came up with V.FC and 56KFlex, neither directly in anticipation of a specific ITU standard but hoping their technology would form the basis of "the next" ITU standard, whatever that was.

          This is different to the pre-N (and before that pre-G) stuff. In the latter cases, the IEEE actually published a draft standard, and the manufacturers decided to go ahead and implement it. The "draft N" routers weren't proprietary technologies designed to compete with other "much better than IEEE standards" systems from rival manufacturers, they were actual implementations of a standard everyone was kinda sorta unified around but which hadn't had the official seal of approval for a variety of reasons.

          So the context is very different. The ITU wasn't wearing running shoes, but it at least put its walking boots on every time the industry called. The IEEE, on the other hand, seems to be content to prance around in very uncomfortable 3" high heels.

          (You were expecting a car analogy?)

          • So the context is very different. The ITU wasn't wearing running shoes, but it at least put its walking boots on every time the industry called. The IEEE, on the other hand, seems to be content to prance around in very uncomfortable 3" high heels.

            I ... don't ... understand.
            Perhaps you could draw on the automotive sector for an analogy?

            • by DJRumpy (1345787)
              It would be like the Government trying to define Tire standards, when the Automobile Industry is building hovercrafts...
          • Wow. V.Fast and 56.KFlex. Thanks for reawakening a patch of dormant brain cells I haven't used in a decade.

            I have a feeling I'm going to spend the rest of the day surfing BBS nostalgia.

            (I was the roxxorz with my 300 baud modem when all the other kids on the block were still 110/150/Baudot. "Eight bits -- No parity -- One stop bit! 7E1? That's for dogs like your mother!")

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Since a bunch of vendors all managed to build compatible products years before the standard was ratified, the standard seems to have been ratified late.

        Do my N devices even need a firmware update to be fully compatible? I doubt it. It seems everyone knew what the standard was going to say long before the IEEE did.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        In other words, it was a de facto standard before it was an official standard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      These task groups are run by individuals from the same companies that manufacturer the products. They all just didn't agree on one standard whether for technical reasons or corporate politics.

    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:23PM (#29394711)
      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/09/21/802_11n_patent_threat/ [theregister.co.uk]

      I'm assuming that if it had been as simple as "take their legos and play elsewhere" (ie replace CSIRO patented technology), they would have done so. The article was written before CSIRO refused to sign the agreements, and before they secretly negotiated what amounted to licensing agreements with a number of top manufacturers.

      Interestingly, someone just revised the Wikipedia article by wholesale-deleting any references to patent issues, CSIRO, or their licensing "settlements" [wikipedia.org].

      What is annoying is that I had to give up trying to find information on WHAT the infringements were. Nobody seems to know, or want to say.

  • Is it really supposed to take that long? I've been using "n" for a long while now.
    • by KillerBob (217953)

      The issue being that with different manufacturers pushing their own versions of N, there's no guarantee that all N-branded hardware will work with each other. I have a PCI 802.11n card that has exactly that problem: it doesn't work with the rest of the stuff on my network. It's sure to work when you push it back to 802.11g compatibility, as that standard is well defined, and backwards compatibility is one of the few things that the different factions deciding on N could agree on, but I can't use that system

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:09PM (#29394627)

    now how long will it be before anyone actually supports the standard.

    • Ok, in all seriousness (as someone who hasn't been paying attention) how well do existing draft-n devices conform to the standard?

      • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:49PM (#29394851)

        Ok, in all seriousness (as someone who hasn't been paying attention) how well do existing draft-n devices conform to the standard?

        I believe they all do - none of the relevant portions of the draft were changed in the final standard.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Hungus (585181)

          Note: I originally posted the AC and the reason it is even vaguely humorous is because it will only take minor flash updates to the current chipsets to make them fully compliant, while they are effectively compliant now.

    • now how long will it be before anyone actually supports the standard.

      Don't worry, your car radio will be picking up 802.11n any minute now.

    • by xOneca (1271886)
      Not much until they change the "802.11 draft-N" label to "802.11n standard", I suppose...
  • Yipee? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flipper9 (109877) * on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:10PM (#29394629)

    So what? There have been Wireless-N products out now for quite a long time. Who gives a flippin' **** about the official approval of the format? It's not like the manufacturers will go back and update the firmware on the older devices. They'll just put out new products, brand them as "Official Wireless-N", and drop support for older equipment which may or not work as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      You mean the wireless modems don't come with Flash ROM that can be updated by the user? That's whack. The old USR Robotics modems were upgrdeable from 19.2 to 28.8 to 56k as each new standard was released.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Those modems also cost four times what a nonupgradable modem would cost, and saved no one any money on that basis. Anyone who saved money going with USR did so on the basis of lack of headaches; they were about the only people back then capable of making a modem that didn't suck. Hayes could almost do it, but they cost almost as much as USR with none of the benefits.

        Anyone who spent the big money on a really expensive Draft-N card has a chance to get a firmware update. Anything el cheapo will probably not g

    • by Barny (103770)

      Actually I remember early ASUS routers had a guarantee that when the draft was finally ratified that if their devices were not compatible with the final standard they would replace or patch existing units.

      Not sure what their current stand is however.

    • Re:Yipee? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jdion (664108) <james@NosPAm.frymanet.com> on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:59PM (#29394901)

      So what? There have been Wireless-N products out now for quite a long time. Who gives a flippin' **** about the official approval of the format? It's not like the manufacturers will go back and update the firmware on the older devices. They'll just put out new products, brand them as "Official Wireless-N", and drop support for older equipment which may or not work as well.

      One of the requirements to have a pre-n modem branded as 'pre-n' since 2007 is that the firmware would be upgradable to the official N standard when drafted. If anything, this will allow a vendor to release the final firmware upgrade for older devices branded on or around 2007, and get on with life.

      We should see at least one more update for older devices.

  • by swanzilla (1458281) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:10PM (#29394635) Homepage
    From the notification:

    I expect to extend the celebration of the success , (while we continue work on the other amendments in process ) when we convene in Hawaii two weeks from now.

    It only took seven years to get this far...may as well go relax.

    I'm very jealous of that time table.

  • So the Signal2Noise article seemed pretty concise and accurate. They I see this had this stuffed into the midst of the text:

    Editor's note: We'll be celebrating next week with another Tweepstakes giving away a laptop of the FUTURE! Stay tuned!

    So they score a double-hit combo of shallowness by simultaneously promoting a laptop giveaway contest AND making a Twitter reference.
    • by dangitman (862676)

      So they score a double-hit combo of shallowness by simultaneously promoting a laptop giveaway contest AND making a Twitter reference.

      3. ???
      4. Profit!

  • by Threni (635302) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:13PM (#29394649)

    LOL - sounds like where I work. What about these new fangled 3.5 inch disks - are they ready to replace low density 5.25 inchers? You can't rush these things, otherwise there'll be too much choice.

    • Well the 5 1/4" disks are more reliable. My old Commodore 64 games on 5 1/4 still work, while the higher density 3.5" disks have essentially erased themselves. I say stick with the lower density but higher reliability 5 and a quarter format.

    • by Barny (103770)

      Whoa slow down tiger, we are still working on getting 720KB disks certified and then we plan to begin on the absolute final ratification of RS-232C

  • by Tanman (90298) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:19PM (#29394687)

    Now they can finally optimize Duke Nukem Forever's network code to utilize this new standard at LAN parties!

  • by NetRanger (5584) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:36PM (#29394781) Homepage

    In related news, the same body has approved a special security packet encapsulator consisting of pigmented lipids that bond the rolled packet together, with a special imprinted signature to establish non-deniability of the transmitter and ensure the packet has not been intercepted and examined by third parties.

    The standard was submitted for approval in '02.

    That is, 0002.

    • In related news, the same body has approved a special security packet encapsulator consisting of pigmented lipids that bond the rolled packet together, with a special imprinted signature to establish non-deniability of the transmitter and ensure the packet has not been intercepted and examined by third parties. The standard was submitted for approval in '02. That is, 0002.

      Amazing! This was modded as informative!

      The writer of this comment was clearly referring to wax seals - i.e., like those that wer

    • Heads up everybody, these packet encapsulators, previously known as Envelope Attribution Logos shall henceforth be known as Standardized Envelope Attribution Logos, colloquially seals.

    • In related news, the same body has approved a special security packet encapsulator consisting of pigmented lipids that bond the rolled packet together, with a special imprinted signature to establish non-deniability of the transmitter and ensure the packet has not been intercepted and examined by third parties.

      But does it support the Evil Bit?

  • glad i waited (Score:3, Interesting)

    by satsuke (263225) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:44PM (#29394815)

    call me risk adverse .. but i was actually waiting for the final publication and n devices.

    it's only recently that the n devices were cost competitive with the g devices.

    now to push cisco/linksys to release an n equivelent to the wrt54gl device

  • by owlstead (636356) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:51PM (#29394857)

    For those who haven't read until the end of the boring article, let me just put in the last sentence:

    "According to the Alliance, users can expect future Wi-Fi products to be fully compatible with todayâ(TM)s products."

    Well, that's at least a relieve. Hopefully they did not have to drop a lot of features to get that result. The other good thing is having an official test suite, so products don't have to be tested 1:N where N is all the other products out there. Although I presume there are also Draft N test suites available already.

  • While I'm glad they came up with this new standard, I wish they wouldn't use the IEEE for this stuff. Now if someone wants to look at the standard they will be charged an outrageous price like $250. $250 for something that will be at most 50 pages, in other words they charge $5 per page.

    • by androvsky (974733)

      While I'm glad they came up with this new standard, I wish they wouldn't use the IEEE for this stuff. Now if someone wants to look at the standard they will be charged an outrageous price like $250. $250 for something that will be at most 50 pages, in other words they charge $5 per page.

      Well, to be fair, it took them about 2 weeks to write each page.

    • Re:IEEE Stinks (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 11, 2009 @07:38PM (#29395055)

      All IEEE 802 standards are available for free:

                      http://standards.ieee.org/getieee802/
                      http://standards.ieee.org/getieee802/portfolio.html

      Besides, what's wrong with them charging for it? Even a non-profit has bills to pay.

      (And 802.11-2007 is 1184 pages.)

      • by owlstead (636356)

        It's a major pain if the standard gets charged for, I'll name a few reasons:
        - Difficult/expensive to get at for individuals (want to do anything as a not-well paid worker in India? Well, fork over 50 euro for the standard first)
        - Hard to tell which standards you really need. I've forked over 50 euro just to get a few pages (20 pages of meta-information and 3 pages of actual info sometimes) with information readily found on the internet.
        - Having to fork over the same amount for each *update* of the standard.

      • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

        As an IEEE member, I expect to have easy, free access to all their standards, boring as they may be: I am a consulting engineer and every so often I need an obscure standard for one thing or another. Why is it that they try to hit me up for another $20-250 each time for a PDF file?!

        IEEE acts much more like a for-profit entity than a non-profit.

        Combine that with the spam... And I wonder why I am still a member at all-- aside for the resume.

    • by jeffstar (134407)

      if you somehow managed to retain an account at your educational institution you may find that they have a subscription to the IEEE and all you have to do is ssh tunnel through your alma matter!

      ok, /. won't let me post. does it take ages for everyone else to go from preview to submit?

      ok, still waiting to use this resource... cmdrtaco you guys should have this sorted out by now it's only been like ... 13 years?

  • by clinko (232501) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:56PM (#29394881) Homepage Journal

    I'm still deciding if I should go X2 or K56Flex and now you drop this on me!?

  • by loose electron (699583) on Friday September 11, 2009 @07:16PM (#29394969) Homepage

    Folks - sad to say, but there is little bit of a disconnect between the IEEE and industry.

    The organization is largely dominated by academics, and students. Industry participation is a bit mixed, to say the least.

    The Special Interest Groups (SIG) are more effective at getting things done (WiFI alliance, WiMax, ZigBee, Bluetooth, etc)

    What happens and gets adopted inside the SIG generally is what happens in the real world. The blessing of the IEEE standard is generally after the fact.
    If the SIG blesses it, HW and SW move ahead, and you get a timely product development where everyone's stuff plugs and plays together.

    Even inside a SIG, the politics and bickering is a tug of war, but the members are motivated to get it done because their companies want to ship products.

    As for the IEEE, due to the academic orientation, there is a lack of impetus to produce standards quickly, and practical information is often not welcome in IEEE journal publications. As a reviewer for 2 IEEE journals, I want the practical, but my reviews go against 3-5 others, and its a consensus decision. Often other reviewers want the math analysis pretty, and don't care much that the publication has nothing for real world application or validity.

    Go figure -

    Oh, and yeah, I truly am a member of the IEEE, Senior Grade, Chapter chair for several societies, and journal reviewer as well. However my efforts are generally swimming against the flow. Because of that, when I publish, I do it in the electronics trade magazines where real world issues are a lot more welcome.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Hey, it probably saves you time. The last paper I had accepted to an IEEE journal was literally under review for two years. TMI took six months to decide NOT to review it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Whats the rush? people can put out products on an interoperable standard they agree on through wifi allainace, WiMax or whatever. When IEEE standardises something I want that to mean, the shit run for sure, I would rather wait let vendors implement draft-n for 2 years than have another FUBAR in the standard like WEP in 802.11.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The delay is not really due to academics. Standard making is a bit of a tug-of-war between various industry players, or specifically between "IP owners" and device makers. The goal of IP owners is to get their patented technology in the standard. If they succeed, and in particular if they can make their technology a mandatory part of the standard, then they can extract big royalties from the device manufacturers. And, no, I am not speaking about CSIRO here.

      That actually played a big role in the beginning of

  • Now, can I have my Atari 2700 now? And get the Cairo OS installed on my PC with an object-oriented file system.

    Need this ASAP so I can finally get to playing Duke nukem forever...

  • its about time.... there is to much confusion with everyone having N, N+ and all the other versions... now there can be one version that is standardized
  • IPV6? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sadler121 (735320) <msadler@gmail.com> on Friday September 11, 2009 @07:58PM (#29395125) Homepage

    Are there any non-apple routers that support IPv6 out of the box? Upgrading from 802.11b/g/a to n would be the perfect opportunity to make sure the consumer router market is ready for IPv6.

    • There are two D-Link models that support IPv6. However, the standard for IPv6 home routers has not yet been finalized: http://tools.ietf.org/wg/v6ops/draft-ietf-v6ops-ipv6-cpe-router/ [ietf.org]

    • by Hymer (856453)

      "Are there any non-apple routers that support IPv6 out of the box?"
      If you need IPv6 routers why don't you just buy them from Apple ?

    • Apple doesn't support IPv6 out of the box, entirely. They support IPv6 on the LAN, and you can do 6to4 tunnels to the Internet with them, but you cannot do native IPv6 with any of their current products right now.

      Dlink and Linksys both have the same capabilities in most of their current consumer grade routers as the Apple. Unfortunately, half of them do not actually have either the ability to disable it, or worse, an IPv6 firewall.

      The replacement firmware packs for those routers are roughly as capable, as

      • by Fjan11 (649654)
        I'm not sure if having IPv6 on the WAN side would be all that useful on a home router. Besides the fact that very few ISPs offer it yet, if you do have IPv6 on the WAN there is no need to use NAT so you might as well use a switch instead of a router.
  • Awesome! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by duffbeer703 (177751)

    Nice, now when's Duke Nukem Forever going to be released?

  • Good news (Score:5, Funny)

    by stokessd (89903) on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:07PM (#29395153) Homepage

    I just went down and told my router, it blinked it's little lights in approval.

    Sheldon

  • by EmagGeek (574360)

    .. did they make a change at the last minute that is small, but nevertheless renders all of the current "pre-n" hardware and software obsolete?

  • Crowded spectrum (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xmff (1489321)

    Hopefully the 5GHz band does not become clogged up now that all the new shiny 11n gear hits the market :-/

    Many 802.11n devices already jam the 2.4GHz range and render near 11g devices unusable with their multi channel stuff...

    • by Guppy (12314)

      Hopefully the 5GHz band does not become clogged up now that all the new shiny 11n gear hits the market :-/

      Isn't a lot of the cheaper 802.11n gear 2.4GHz only? I seemed to recall only certain 11n units with "dual band" operation models will offer 5GHz.

      • by teg (97890)

        Isn't a lot of the cheaper 802.11n gear 2.4GHz only? I seemed to recall only certain 11n units with "dual band" operation models will offer 5GHz.

        Many of them will let you choose 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. If you use 5 GHz, no b/g for you... Personally, I hope dual band doesn't catch on as I love mine. 2.4 GHz is very, very crowded here... while I'm the only one on 5 GHz. 10x the speed.

    • by Piranhaa (672441)

      At least the 5GHz channels are totally isolated from one another so the chances that EACH person in your neighbourhood is saturating EVERY channel simultaneously is pretty slim. The same cannot be said about the wireless 2.4GHz channels 1-12.

  • by XB-70 (812342)
    Where and when do we find DD-WRT 802.11N and for what router?
  • I'll finally consider purchasing some that's not based on a draft standard.
  • from TFA: "In a rare double whammy decision, they've also finished and released Duke Nukem forever, which fully supports Wireless-N." Don't think too hard about how much sense that makes lol.
  • "has sent out a notification to a listserv for task group members"

    I haven't heard that word in ages -- I guess the standards documents are retrievable through the IEEE's gopher service?

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