The IEEE is dragging their feet and so, the new 802.11n standard remains on hold. However, consumers, always eager for bigger-better-faster, are getting restless.
So, starting early next year, the WiFi Alliance is going to start “pre-certifying” 802.11n products.
This is a bold move, since the operative phrase is “pre-certifying“. That means just what it states. The IEEE has the final say over the 802.11n standard and, until it is formally ratified, could change it as they see fit. Until everything is formally approved, no one really knows what the certification requirements of the final standard will be.
Until that time, the best that consumers will see is a “pre-n” certified product. Meaning that the vendor “expects that this product will be compatible with products certified to the final standard” but will not guarantee that. Oh sure, there will be stickers on the packages stating that this is a “pre-n” product but most consumers will probably not understand exactly what that means. Maybe the sticker should say something like this instead:
This product will probably work with the proposed 802.11n standard once it is approved sometime in 2008. However, the consumer is taking a chance by purchasing this “pre-n” product and must understand that it may not work properly after the standard is accepted by the IEEE.