Belkin Latest is Wi-Fi Certified Despite Pre-N Worries

By Eric Griffith

October 11, 2004

The Wi-Fi Alliance has certified that Belkin's new high speed products work with existing networks, but warns vendors that other 'pre-802.11n' labeled products that may mess up interoperation will lose the Wi-Fi seal.

With Belkin's "Wireless Pre-N" products—one router and one CardBus card—getting ready to hit store shelves, the Wi-Fi Alliance has taken time today to announce its stand on such products. In short, it doesn't like them if they don't play nice with others.

The Alliance says that as part of its Extensions Policy (which puts a watch on products with proprietary speed boosts such as Atheros' Super AG), any product that claims to have IEEE 802.11n capabilities but "adversely impacts the interoperability of other Wi-Fi Certified products" will get its certification revoked.

Apparently, that's not a problem for Belkin—its Pre-N Wireless Router (model: F5D8230-4) and Wireless Notebook Network Card (model: F5D8010) have both been certified for interoperability by the Alliance to work with existing certified 802.11b/g networks.

802.11n is a proposed future standard for a super-high-speed Wi-Fi. The standard is currently in the proposal phase with the IEEE's 802.11 Working Group. The technology is likely to include the multiple-in/multiple-out (MIMO) technology that utilizes multiple smart antennas to increase throughput of a wireless signal. One of the companies proposing such technology is Airgo Networks, which is supplying the "Pre-N" chips Belkin is using.

Belkin originally said its "Pre-N" products will have 200% better coverage and speed than current 802.11g products, but now says the products "guarantee 800% wider coverage and 600% faster speeds," and will offer full backwards compatibility. Each of the new Belkin products has multiple antennas, three receivers, and two transmitters, to utilize the MIMO functions which send multiple data streams on the same channel.

The Alliance says that to avoid customer confusion, it discourages any vendor from using the term "IEEE 802.11n" to describe a Wi-Fi Certified product—an issue that was big with the original shipment of early pre-802.11g products, some of which were not upgradeable to the final standard.

It's unclear if the Belkin "Pre-N" products will be upgradeable to the final 802.11n, since the technology could go in many different directions. It's possible the standard might not even use the suggestions of Airgo and the World Wide Spectrum Efficiency (WWiSE) group it is part of for making proposals to the 802.11 Working Group.

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