Pre-standards, new standards and other Wi-Fi tales

03 Sep 2008

It was the week that saw mass quantities of pre-standard 802.11n adoption and new standards for Wi-Fi voice roaming, as well as Android sans Bluetooth and a suitcase-sized prototype for emergency comms.

A new study by BT North America reported during the week that controller-based, pervasive WLANs are quickly become a standard feature of enterprise networks, while nearly one-third of enterprises say they are migrating to the draft 802.11n WLAN standard within the next 12 months.

The study's authors say that rate of adoption for a not-yet-ratified standard is unprecedented, indicating that 11n benefits are urgently needed by a significant number of enterprise sites. That said, half of respondents still say there's no rush.

The BT study follows research released last week from ABI Research indicating that 802.11n is also finding love in the academic sector. ABI says 11n penetration of the higher education market is 2.3% - not a high number, admits vice president and research director Stan Schatt, but impressive considering this is pre-standard technology. ABI also says video is a big driver for 11n on campus.

Speaking of Wi-Fi standards, the IEEE completed a new one during the week: 802.11r, a.k.a. Fast Basic Service Set Transition, which enables roaming between APs with less than 50ms handover time. That means APs will be able to hand-off VoIP calls as you walk around the campus or tech-park. According to Techworld, it also clears the way for the Wi-Fi Alliance to launch an enterprise version of its certified VoIP over Wi-Fi program next year.

It was also the week that saw Google drop Bluetooth and the GTalkService instant messaging APIs from the toolkit for its Android 1.0 OS. Nick Pelly, one of the Android engineers responsible for the Bluetooth API, admitted on the Android Developers Blog that they weren't able to complete the API in time for the release of Android 1.0. Google says its still committed to Bluetooth support in future releases, but didn't give a timetable. The GTalkService API was removed because of security flaws that could reveal personal info.

In other news for the week, several vendors demonstrated new advances in wireless broadband technology. Nortel and LG Electronics announced they had completed the first live LTE handoff between cell sites during a recent test at Nortel's development center in Ottawa. Nortel said it was able to maintain an HD video stream to a handset while traveling in a car going about 62 mph.

Meanwhile, Ericsson staged an LTE demo in Sydney in which data speeds topped 160 Mbps. However, Ericsson admitted cheerfully it had stacked the deck in its favor by using a notebook with a dedicated connection to the base station. Colin Goodwin, strategic marketing manager for Ericsson, said that real-world speeds would be far less. So at least it was an honest demo. Sort of.

In regulatory news for the week, Thailand's TOT said it is reluctant to allow AIS to share part of TOT subsidiary Thai Mobile's 1900 MHz bandwidth to provide 3G services. AIS wants share the bandwidth to provide 3G under a build-transfer-operate concession.

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