The Wi-Fi Alliance is going ahead with a certification programme for the LAN quality of service standard despite the fact it will not be ratified until at least a few months later.

IEEE 802.11e will not become official until the end of 2004 at the earliest, but the Wi-Fi Alliance's programme will start in September, with the organisation hoping to get the market going.

The certification program, for the standards WME component, will be similar to the programme to certify the stable parts of the 802.11Ii security standard (due to be ratified in June) which it launched last year under the name WPA.

The IEEE quality of service spec will have two components (see our feature on WLAN quality standards). WME (Wi-Fi Multimedia Extensions), a mandatory part of the 802.11e spec are fairly stable already, and can be used by developers to assign priority to packets for data applications. The second piece of the spec, WSM, (Wi-Fi Scheduled MultiMedia), is a more ambitious proposal coming from the voice industry, and will control resource management for bandwidth.

Voice will be important on the business side, where quality of service (QoS) will be mainly used for voice over Wi-Fi applications, according to Frank Hanzlik, managing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance: "Eventually it will manage cell phones that include Wi-Fi and switch between networks as appropriate."

On the consumer side, QoS services will be required as consumer electronics vendors put Wi-Fi into TVs, DVD players, and home entertainment systems. "You need to be able to manage bandwidth and prioritise the packets if you're sending a video image from your PC to your television," said Hanzlik.

The Wi-Fi Alliance’s certification programme for the WME component of the 802.11e spec is due to start in September.