Following the finalization of the Wireless-N (802.11n) standard, the Wi-Fi Alliance, a nonprofit group that tests and certifies wireless products to ensure they interoperate, launched on Tuesday its new test program that supports the final specs of the standard.
This certification is still necessary because, according to Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, the final specs include a lot of options and items that vendors could interpret differently, which could lead to products that don't work with each other. "Our certification program ensures that the product conforms with the final standard and interoperates with others." Felner added.
The new certification program is basically the same as the one used for the Draft N 2.0, with the addition of a few tests for new optional features, including:
- Test support for simultaneous transmission of up to three spatial streams
- Packet aggregation (A-MPDU), to make data transfers more efficient
- Space-time block coding (STBC), a multiple-antenna encoding technique to improve reliability in some environments
- Channel coexistence measures for "good neighbor" behavior when using 40 MHz operation in the 2.4 GHz band
Davis-Felner also confirmed that all existing Wi-Fi Certified Draft N products will interoperate with the new Wi-Fi Certified N products. The reason for this is because the final standard only adds more options on top of the specs supported by the Draft N 2.0 without any major changes.
This also means most of the existing Draft N products can be upgraded to receive the final specs via firmware. However, once upgraded, they will need to be tested again to be certified with the final N specs.
Currently, there's not yet any Wi-Fi Certified N products on the market but there are a few vendors that have submitted their hardware to be to be used in the interoperability test bed, and their devices will be the first to become Wi-Fi Certified N products with the new testing program. These devices include:
- Atheros XSPAN Dual-band 2.4/5GHz PCIe MiniCard for Computing Designs, Full MIMO Configuration
- Atheros XSPAN Dual-band, Dual-concurrent 2.4/5GHz, Gigabit Reference Platform for AP/Routers, Full MIMO configuration
- Broadcom Intensifi Dual-Band 802.11n Client Reference Design
- Broadcom Intensifi XLR Dual-Band 802.11n Router Reference Design
- Intel Ultimate N WiFi Link 5300
- Marvell Smart Wi-Fi 802.11n 3x3 450 Mbps Dual-Band Access Point
- Ralink 3x3 AP
It's unclear when any of these will be available but you can expect to buy some by the end of the year.