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Next-Gen Wi-Fi (802.11n) Kit Sales See Dramatic Increase
By: MarkJ - 02 July, 2008 (9:38 AM)

ABI Research estimates that shipments of consumer-oriented next-gen 802.11n Wi-Fi access points are expected to see a dramatic increase over the next five years, rising from just 6 million this year to a forecast 88 million in 2013.

The 'n' spec is seen as a crucial evolution of existing Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) technology, which will bring faster speeds (100Mbps+) and improved range to the table. Presently Wi-Fi is only officially certified to 'g' spec, which offers speeds of up to 54Mbps.

Unfortunately years of standards disagreements have plagued the certification process for 'n', which will now not be formally approved until sometime next year. Typically many hardware manufacturers chose not to wait and draft 'n' spec Wi-Fi kit has been shipping for well over a year:

According to ABI Research vice president Stan Schatt, "802.11n will become the default Wi-Fi technology of choice as equipment vendors include it in their new products. The real market growth will kick in when sufficient numbers of consumers have 802.11n capabilities embedded in their new laptop and desktop computers. We anticipate the greatest adoption to take place in the 2009-2010 timeframe.

While some larger organizations remain initially wary because 'n' is still a draft with ratification of the final standard expected next year, companies with workgroups that need 802.11ns extra speed, range, and robustness may push ahead in a piecemeal fashion.

One thing that owners of such hardware will want to know is whether or not the pre-n kit they buy can be upgraded (firmware flashed) to the final standard, thus ensuring future compatibility. We suspect that this will be entirely up to the manufacturers because very little has changed with regards to the physical hardware design. However, by the time n is finalised many of the oldest pre-n kits may no longer be supported.

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