Wireless network standardization took another big step today, with the opening of 802.11ac draft 1.0 for balloting. There are two gigabit Wi-Fi standards efforts going right now, and 802.11ac is arguably the more important because it runs in the existing Wi-Fi frequency spaces.
The first draft of a standard is the down payment on a promise to the users of the resulting technology. It may be a 1.0 “product” with a long road ahead to status as a final standard, but the existence of a first draft shows that the industry has coalesced around a basic approach. Early drafts of PHY specifications in 802.11 have been enough to start building product.
Yes, there will be many changes to come, and the process of converging on a single interpretation of the often-ambiguous text in the first draft will take additional drafts. Over the next few years, we as an industry will learn a great deal as 802.11ac drafts are used to build products, and as we work with our customers creating even higher-speed networks based on this new technology.
Today is a brief chance to celebrate. The road ahead is long and paved with letter ballot comments, but the length does nothing to diminish the meaning of the first step.
For those readers who are interested in making comparisons to previous efforts, 802.11n’s first ballot began on April 29, 2006. After that first ballot, it still took 2-3 years of hard work to make 802.11n a commercial success.
As always, if you’re interested in following the progress of your favorite helping of 802.11 alphabet soup, I recommend bookmarking the 802.11 timeline page.