Big news from the IEEE: Draft 2.0 of 802.11n moves forward: The vote was 100-0 with 5 abstentions, Matthew Gast notes from the London meeting. This is a significant milestone from a lot of different directions. It's one thing to achieve a 75-percent supermajority necessary to advance a draft into its final stages, which is just the tweaking and fixing that brings it to ratification with no significant alterations. It's another to get the bag of cats that are the stakeholders in the task group to vote unanimously.
Draft 2.0 now goes out for letter ballot, where IEEE members choose to move the process along further, but the vote to take the draft into that status indicates there should be little problem with the formal adoption as the final basis of 802.11n. (Technically, Draft 1.10 was approved, and if the letter ballot succeeds, the new draft will be numbered 2.0.)
This also means that it's extremely likely that my concern over the last nine months about early Draft N equipment not all being upgradable through firmware to a Draft 2.0 and final release standard will prove misplaced. With the industry providing no hardware upgrade guarantees--like, "We'll swap your gateway if we can't make it as fast as the standard says and fully interoperable"--I've been dubious about early adoption of Draft N, especially that equipment based on Draft 1.0. Further, most early gear has revealed remarkable inconsistency in performance and interoperability with even like devices in testing by magazines and online publications.
The vote today indicates that there's a very strong direction for 802.11n, and I expect within a matter of weeks that we'll see waves of firmware upgrades for existing products, real availability of Draft 2.0 chipsets--Airgo wasn't the only one working in anticipation of this accepted draft--and a timetable for the Wi-Fi Alliance to certify Draft 2.0-compliant devices.
After four years, this is a big step forward.
Update: Atheros released a statement from their CTO that Atheros's Xspan chips can be made compliant with today's approved draft via a software update.
Broadcom's Bill Bunch also said in an interview, "All of our products that we've ever shipped since Day One will be upgradable to the final draft 2.0." It's all about firmware upgrades now.