An IEEE member informed me that the Task Group N schedule has slipped considerably: The group received 12,000 comments on the Draft 1.0 proposal that was accepted as a working draft in March, and which failed to achieve in May anywhere near the 75 percent required (it received under 50 percent) to make it a final draft that would head to ratification. What wasn't expected is that instead of perhaps 2,000 comments on the draft, a typical occurrence after drafts are sent around for review by IEEE voting members, 12,000 comments came in.
I can't say whether this is unprecedented--I simply don't know--but it should undermine the confidence of Atheros, Broadcom, and Marvell in producing silicon based on Draft 1.0 and calling it Draft N compliant. It's possible that none of the 12,000 comments will result in significant changes that require modification beyond what's achievable with firmware. Because none of the manufacturers shipping Draft N devices will guarantee that their shipping equipment will be upgradable for full functionality and Wi-Fi certified interoperability to the final, ratified version of Draft N, this is yet another sign that buying Draft N equipment right now is senseless.
To avoid confusion, Draft N encompass a set of technical changes that could boost speeds to 150 Mbps of net throughput or more. Multiple in, multiple-out (MIMO) antenna and processing technology is one part of that, and a significant part, but there are hundreds of other details. If you want a broader coverage area, buy current generation MIMO gear. If you want higher speeds, wait a few months at least. I was predicting July or September for a stable draft, but my source says things will slip, which could mean November or even January before a draft is reached that one would have confidence solves all the existing problems with legacy networks and which could be etched onto silicon wafers forever.
Some blame the IEEE for the slow pace of introducing new standards. I can't blame the group's process, but its pace is based on a certain frequency of general meetings that doesn't hold up to the demands of the marketplace. This is why gear now regularly ships far ahead of any standard, and why standards like the ultrawideband physical layer for personal area networks (802.15.3a) disbanded in disunity.
Again, if you want range, buy MIMO. If you want speed, wait. And whatever you do, don't buy Draft N. The premium you pay isn't worth the uncertainty and the many, many upgrades you'll have to apply.