Wireless Networks on Verge of Makeover

By MATTHEW FORDAHL AP Technology Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- The technology behind wireless data networks in homes and businesses is on the verge of a makeover that promises to fix long-standing complaints of spotty coverage, flaky connections and inconsistent speeds.

The next generation of Wi-Fi will be so powerful that it's expected to be capable of carrying everything from Internet phone calls and music to high-definition television streams over the airwaves without a hiccup.

Problem is, the standard technically known as 802.11n does not yet exist. Not even a draft has been approved.

In fact, the final 802.11n specifications aren't expected to receive an official nod until late next year at the earliest.

But that has not stopped the makers of access points, networking cards and other wireless gear from launching a parade of products that claim the benefits and even the underlying technologies of the still-to-be-defined 802.11n.

The situation is setting a new standard for market confusion _ even in an industry that plasters its boxes with claims of unobtainable speeds, fuzzy math and a dizzying collection of acronyms. Some products are labeled "Pre N," which some believe might lead consumers to think the equipment is upgradeable to actual 802.11n.


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