A wireless industry group, worried about incompatibilities among next-generation routers and network cards, will start certifying products next year without waiting for the completion of technical standards.
Frank Hanzlik, managing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, said that without a certification program, the market could have been fragmented by the growing number and variety of pre-standard 'Draft N' or 'Pre-N' products claiming faster speeds and greater range.
The products take their names from the upcoming 802.11n standard.
As early as a month ago, the alliance, which ensures Wi-Fi products from different companies work together, indicated it wouldn't certify the interoperability of the pre-N products.
But delays within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the professional association that shepherds the standards process, prompted the Wi-Fi Alliance to rethink, Hanzlik said.
Currently, the IEEE is working on integrating thousands of comments and edits to a draft standard.
Hanzlik said he expects to use the next version of the draft for testing and certification _ but that if the IEEE remains bogged down, the Wi-Fi Alliance will still go ahead with the plan to certify products in the first half of 2007.
Then, when the IEEE approves a final 802.11n standard, not expected until March 2008, the alliance will conduct a second phase of testing.
The 'n' version is expected to be about five times faster, though in reality, speeds rarely reach what's promised on the box. It promises even greater reach through walls and into dead spots.