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802.11n: Fast Wi-Fi's long, tortuous road to standardization

Dec 11, 2009, 19:33 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols)

"In fact, until September 2009, it wasn't, officially, even a standard. But that didn't stop vendors from implementing it for several years beforehand, causing confusion and upset when networking gear that used draft standards from different suppliers wouldn't always work at the fastest possible speed when connected.

"It wasn't supposed to be that way. But, for years, the Wi-Fi hardware big dogs fought over the 802.11n protocol like it was a chew toy. The result: it took five drama-packed years for the standard to come to fruition.

"The delay was never over the technology. In fact, the technical tricks that give 802.11n its steady connection speeds of 100Mbps to 140Mbps have been well-known for years.

"Instead, the answer is the usual one behind standards wars: mud-wrestling among major vendors. They squared off over which approach would become the one, true, money-making standard. In this case, that wrestling match hit a new low point -- several times, just when it seemed like agreement had been reached, it turned out that a new fight was brewing instead."

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