The IEEE has finally ratified the new, faster wireless standard 802.11g, and the non-profit organisation set up to check interoperability of such products - the Wi-Fi Alliance - has already started work on certifying products.
This is excellent news for the wireless market and means many more companies may start looking at the products to replace the cables and leads that currently swamp most workplaces.
802.11g is a great improvement over the previous 802.11b, giving four to five times data transmission speeds. Most importantly though, last-minute chances in the standard have meant that both G and B equipment will work together. Since both use the same frequency to send information through the air, compatibility problems are a big issue since many companies already have a large installed base of B equipment.
G also gives the same speed as the more expensive 802.11a equipment, which uses a higher frequency, meaning its range is also shorter.
With wireless companies also claiming to have developed techniques to get even more out of G, the demand for wireless products is expected to continue to growth rapidly. In recognition of this the Wi-Fi Alliance used the ratification to also announce that it has created a new managing director role. Frank Hanzlik - formerly in senior management positions at Dell and Motorola and most recently as a VP at Mobilian - has taken on the role.
Frank seems to know what he's facing. His ascribed quote in the Wi-Fi Alliance press release reads: "'Wi-Fi Certified' products and services are at the cornerstone of this growth, enabling proven product interoperability and a great user experience. I am very excited to lead this prestigious organisation and take our current successes to the next level."
What Frank knows, what we know, what lots of wireless manufacturers know but which user companies probably don't, is that for the next few months there is going to be confusion in the market. Several companies jumped the gun and produced G products before the standard was ratified in order to get a headstart on the market.
You will now find them embracing the G standard and also offering free firmware downloads to bring their pre-G products up to speed. The last-minute changes to the standard will not affect them, they will say - in fact they already have started saying it. Whether this is true or not, it is impossible to say. But if you want to take advantage of this new fast and cheap wireless technology, your best bet would be to wait for the Wi-Fi Alliance to start approving new G equipment.