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Timeline: 802.11n development milestones

A snapshot of efforts to create a 100+Mbps wireless LAN standard

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Today the IEEE is expected to approve the 802.11n high-throughput wireless LAN standard, capping seven years of work. Here’s a snapshot of how efforts to create a 100+Mbps wireless LAN standard got started.

September 2002: IEEE’s High-Throughput Study group kicks off to explore feasibility of boosting wireless LAN performance.

September 2003: IEEE creates 802.11n Task Group, charged with creating a 100+Mbps wireless LAN standard.

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October 2004: Belkin launches a “pre-11n” access point, based on the first commercial MIMO chipset from Airgo Networks (later acquired by Qualcomm).

July 2005: Draft 1 wins approval, amid acrimonious debate and politicking among now-forgotten proponents of competing technologies.

July 2006: Dell announces draft-11n internal Wi-Fi adapter, based on Broadcom silicon, for some of its newest laptop models.

August 2006: W-Fi Alliance reverses its long-standing policy of not testing WLAN gear until a standard, in this case 11n, is finally and formally certified.

March 2007: Draft 2 wins approval.

May 2007: At Interop, Colubris, Trapeze, and Ruckus Wireless announce enterprise 11n network gear, to be eventually certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

June 2007: Wi-Fi Alliance launches its 11n interoperability testing and certification program.

September 2007: Burton Group Analyst Paul Debeasi, in a controversial report, asks whether 802.11n means the “end of Ethernet” for network access. Cisco unveils its first 11n access point.

November 2007: First large-scale 11n deployment, at Morrisville State Collge with Meru WLAN products, is operational.

January 2008: Marvell unveils 3x3 MIMO 11n chipset, dubbed TopDog 11n-450, promising a 450Mbps data rate.

August 2008: BT North America survey finds one-third of 226 companies in the study are migrating to 11n over the next 12 months, and another 20% in the following 12 months.

September 2008: IEEE launches two gigabit-wireless task groups, one in the under-6GHz band, the other in the 60GHz band.

September 11, 2009: IEEE Standards Board is expected to approve 802.11n as a formal standard.

Sources: Cisco, Wi-Fi Alliance, Network World


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