After nearly five years in draft, the next-generation Wi-Fi standard is set to be finalized in September. Officially known as 802.11n and often referred to as “Wireless N,” the new standard paves the way for blazing fast high definition video and data at home.
Products based on the final 802.11 n standard could offer up to 600 Mbps connectivity speeds, plus the ability to have up to four simultaneous streams of high-definition video, voice and data through the house. The standard also promises easy backward compatibility, which means new devices will work smoothly with older products.
The 802.11n standard is the successor to the 802.11g Wi-Fi protocol, which offers speeds of up to 54 Mbps. The 802.11n standard’s most important addition has been the multiple-input multiple-output capability, also known as MIMO. MIMO allows for multiple antennas to resolve more information quickly.
Although 802.11n won’t be final until next month, manufacturers have been making products based on a draft version of the standard for several years. These typically offer two or three channels to send and receive data or voice respectively. They also limit the overall speed to much less than the 600 Mbps that newer standard offers.
Chip makers are racing to deliver on that promise. At the Computex show last month, Qualcomm introduced a chip that could make 802.11n a dream standard for users. Qualcomm’s chip offers 4×4 transmit and receive capability, meaning that it uses four separate streams to distribute concurrent voice, video and data in either the 5GHz or 2.4 GHz radio bands.