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The InfoWorld story is a bit obscure because pre-standard 802.11n is in a confusing state: Veteran wireless reporter Ephraim Schwartz says that Intel director Alan Crouch told an audience at IEEE Globecom 2006 Expo today that Intel would put 802.11n into Centrino reference designs by next year. But at which point next year will be the critical question. Draft 2.0 of the 802.11n spec is expected in March, and that draft or something like it will be the basis for a Wi-Fi Alliance certification testing program for interim 802.11n devices. If Intel waits til April or May to add N, it’s much more likely they’ll be on the right page than in January or February.
(Apple is apparently putting Draft N chips in some of its laptops now, with the N features turned off, apparently hedging bets that if the chips turn out to be firmware upgradable, they need only turn on the N features.)
If you tell yourself often enough that’s something true and have a peer group, you think it is true: Peter Judge at Techworld writes about the top four laptop makers adopting Draft N 1.0-derived chipsets, and how non-certified interoperability testing is convincing more manufacturers. The spin is that early N is great for the small office/home office market that’s sophisticated enough to update their firmware regularly to take advantage of frequent protocol fixes.
Judge notes that a Broadcom VP expects the tipping point to come in early 2007, with Intel expected to ship Draft N products and Wi-Fi Alliance certification appears. Judge says (or perhaps paraphrases) that the Wi-Fi Alliance hasn’t “branded” (really, lab tested and certified) a draft before, but that’s not correct. WPA was based on a draft of 802.11i when that standard was far too delayed, too, stalling the marketplace due to security concerns. Likewise, the Draft 2.0 of 802.11n will be fairly mature, with a year of compromises and work between 1.0 and 2.0, making it much more stable than a typical 2.0 draft in these sorts of IEEE committees. (802.11g was at Draft 5 when Broadcom put it into silicon, for instance, but drafts were being updated every bimonthly meeting or so.)
The company says its Intensi-fi chips will have native support for Skype: This support means less coding and less work on the part of integrators who want to have Skype in their handheld devices. Lenovo also said they will include the Draft 1.0-like 802.11n that Broadcom offers in their N100 and some 3000 series laptops.