It can get confusing to keep track of which technologies have been standardised, implemented in products, and certified for enterprise use.

At the recent Burton Group Catalyst Conference in San Francisco, Greg Ennis who is the technical director at the Wi-Fi Alliance, provided an update of the 802.11 technology tests and certifications that are coming. Here’s what to expect and when:

RF performance of dual-mode handsets: Third-quarter 2006
The Alliance currently certifies the Wi-Fi portion of 26 dual-mode mobile handsets as it would any Wi-Fi data client for interoperability with a sample test bed of other Wi-Fi data products (Click here for a list).

The Alliance’s recently announced joint certification partnership with the CTIA, however, will have the Alliance testing RF performance for the first time, in order to accommodate the carriers’ stringent performance standards in the devices that they sell with their services.

Voice-over-Wi-Fi (Vo-Fi) product interoperability: 2006 and 2007
The alliance will begin certification testing of Wi-Fi products that support voice for small office/home office use late this year and will begin certifying enterprise-class Vo-Fi products in mid to late 2007, Ennis said.

Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) call admission control: mid-2007
Interoperability testing of the most recently standardised component of the 802.11e QoS standard will begin late in the second quarter or early in the third quarter of 2007.

802.11n product interoperability: Fall 2007
Tests are expected to start in about 15 months, “consistent with the expected time frame for the IEEE approval” of the 11n standard. By default, Ennis said, since 11n specifies backward-compatibility with 802.11a/b/g standards, any product that becomes 802.11n-certified by the Alliance will also pass 11a/b/g certification.

802.11r for fast roaming and 802.11k for radio resource management: Second-quarter 2007
Important for real-time voice calls, both of these standards-in-progress hasten the transition process of a mobile client as it moves between access points to reduce connectivity loss.

Interoperability tests are slated for the second quarter of 2007 (at approximately the same time the standards are expected to be ratified).

Joanie Wexler is an independent networking technology writer/editor in California's Silicon Valley. She welcomes your comments at [email protected]