The Wi-Fi Alliance announced this morning that it has started certifying fully compliant 802.11n devices, along with new optional elements: The group, which tests 802.11 gear for interoperability, is graduating from the Draft N trademark and testing to plain old N, with updates to logos and processes.
As noted in my earlier article, "The Fine Points of Optional Wi-Fi 802.11n Certification," 2009-08-07, the Wi-Fi Alliance added four additional optional certifications for a third spatial stream, better 2.4 GHz coexistence, space-time block coding, and packet aggregation. A few other tweaks are also added, described in that article.
The biggest change we'll see from the completion of the 802.11n standard and this certification update is three-stream N, which will allow raw data rates of 450 Mbps, along with the potential to simultaneously address three mobile devices at one time that are using single-stream 802.11n. This is likely to have much less impact in the home than in the enterprise, of course. Four-stream, 600 Mpbs devices are still in the future.
The alliance only releases new certification programs after testing with reference gear from major chipmakers, this time involving Atheros, Broadcom, Intel, Marvell, and Ralink. The companies involved all shot out press releases today describing their involvement, and how cool all this new gear will be.
It's likely that as the result of certifying new gear, older devices will see minor firmware updates as tweaks are made. The space-time block coding changes conceivably can be rolled into older devices, as well as some of the packet-aggregation updates. Both improve throughput depending on network conditions.