A long-awaited standard for wireless LANs that offers faster data transfer than the current 802.11b specification while using the same frequencies, won final approval yesterday morning.
The new standard, 802.11g, lays down the ground rules for wireless LAN (WLAN) devices that are capable of speeds of at least 24Mbps (megabits per second) and up to 54Mbps, while remaining backward-compatible with the existing 802.11b standard which runs at a maximum 11Mbps. Both use radio spectrum in the range of 2.4GHz. Another standard, 802.11a, offers speeds of up to 54Mbps but uses a different 5GHz range.
Many vendors, including Belkin and Apple, have been shipping equipment based on drafts of the standard for months, and promise they will make those products meet the final specification through free firmware downloads.
The Standards Board of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) approved the new specification after a standardisation process that took just over three years.
Although products only have to provide a maximum 24Mbps carrying capacity to meet 802.11g's speed requirements, the industry group Wi-Fi Alliance will require support for 54Mbps performance for its own 2.4GHz high-speed label.