The Wi-Fi Alliance has detailed its plans to introduce new standards, enhanced security and easier access to Wi-Fi for consumers over the next two years.
The Alliance, which certifies interoperability between vendor products, said testing for the new Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11g standard has begun, and that it has insisted that all hardware using the new standard must be backwards compatible with 802.11b.
The new standard, which offers 54Mbps Wi-Fi connectivity over the 2.4GHz spectrum, is expected to be ratified by the IEEE by August, but products have already started appearing on the market.
But Michael Wall, analyst at Frost & Sullivan, warned that vendors offering products now are guessing at the standard.
"The people shipping them are working on the best guess of what the final standard will be. They may be close to what the final standard ends up as, but there's the potential for major interoperability problems."
For international Wi-Fi users progress is being made on the 802.11h standard, which should be ratified by IEEE in July.
This offers 802.11a Wi-Fi but with dynamic frequency shifting to handle different countries' spectrum requirements, and transmit power control that minimises power use.
On security an Alliance group is meeting in Dallas this week to hammer out conflicts between vendors on 802.11i, which will be called Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) version 2 when it is finalised.
WPA offers wireless security such as encryption and identity management. But it is unlikely the standard will be finalised before the end of the year at the earliest.
Certification for the WPA version 1 was completed on 29 April and can be installed on existing hardware via firmware upgrades. However, a full implementation of WPA v2 will require a hardware upgrade.
"WPA should be a stop-gap measure, not a solution," said Brian Grimm, marketing director at the Wi-Fi Alliance.
"By the end of the year, or the beginning of the next, 802.11i will be finalised and will give much stronger security. We'll be calling it WPA v2 because it's more customer friendly and we want to avoid confusion with 802.11b/Wi-Fi."
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