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Don't buy uncertified Wi-Fi devices, Gartner warns

Research firm Gartner has warned companies to hold off buying 802.11g wireless LAN technology until products can be properly certified by the non-profit Wi-Fi Alliance.

Jumping on the 802.11g bandwagon may result in interoperability problems with other 802.11g devices, as well as older 802.11b wireless LAN technology, Gartner said.

Like Wi-Fi devices that use the popular 802.11b standard, 802.11g wireless devices operate in the 2.4GHz band. However, 802.11g devices support much faster data transfer rates than those using the 802.11b standard, 54Mbps (bits per second) as opposed to 11Mbps, making them better suited for enterprise network environments.

In February, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced it would begin certifying 802.11g products after the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) approved the final standard for 802.11g later this year. The alliance is developing an 802.11g interoperability test program based on the most recent draft of the standard.

When finalised, Wi-Fi Alliance certification will test both mandatory and optional components of the IEEE 802.11g standard, including the ability to support the 54Mbps rate. Backward interoperability with Wi-Fi certified 802.11b products will be tested, as will performance in mixed 802.11b / 802.11g network environments.

Compliant products will feature indicate support for the 54Mbps rate in the 2.4GHz band on their capabilities label.

Despite the lack of a firm 802.11g standard, competition for the high-growth wireless LAN market has encouraged hardware companies to push 802.11g products to market. Those products might not meet the certification criteria for 802.11g operation when those criteria are finalised, leading to interoperability problems, especially in networks using products from more than one supplier, Gartner said. 

Certified 802.11g products should be available in the fourth quarter. Until then, Gartner analysts recommended that companies stick to using certified 802.11b devices. Companies intent on purchasing uncertified 802.11g wireless devices or devices that support both standards should pay no more than they would for 802.11b devices, Gartner said.


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