The IEEE standards board is expected to approve the 802.11i Wi-Fi security specification today. The 802.11e quality of service standard is now not expected till next year.

The security standard (explained here) was created to replace the basic WEP security included in earlier 802.11 wireless networking standards. Although 802.11i is expected to pass, it's not a given until the final votes are counted, said Stuart Kerry, the chair of the IEEE 802.11 working group. However, it has already had unanimous approval from the IEEE revisions committee on Wednesday, setting the 802.11i specification up for a final vote on Thursday during a meeting in Piscataway, New Jersey, he said.

802.11i adds the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) security protocol to the standard for wireless LANs. Security has been a primary concern for IT managers reluctant to deploy wireless networks, but AES gives a stronger level of security. The WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) security standard, created by the Wi-Fi Alliance as an interim, contains other elements of 802.11i, but not the level of security that comes with AES. AES is designated the US government's official security standard.

Enterprises with newer wireless networking equipment should be able to download the new standard once it is ratified. However, IT managers with older products might need to upgrade their equipment to handle the extra processing requirements of 802.11i, the Wi-Fi Alliance said earlier this year.

The Wi-Fi Alliance plans to certify products for 802.11i starting in September, under the WPA2 brand.

Later this year, the IEEE plans to begin the final approval process for the 802.11e quality of service standard for wireless video and audio. The Wi-Fi Alliance had expected the standard to be approved by the end of this year, in time for the holiday shopping season, but sources indicated Wednesday that the 802.11e approval process should carry over well into next year.