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Issue of April 2003 
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No 802.11g until it's certified

Gartner Inc. has warned companies to delay investing in 802.11g WLAN technology until the nonprofit Wi-Fi Alliance properly certifies products. 802.11g products may display interoperability problems with other 802.11g devices as well as older 802.11b WLAN technology, Gartner said.

802.11g wireless devices operate in the 2.4 GHz band but can support faster data transfer rates than those using the 802.11b standard. It supports 54 Mbps compared to 802.11b's 11 Mbps.

The Wi-Fi Alliance said it's still in the process of developing an 802.11g interoperability test program based on the most recent draft of the standard. When finalized, Wi-Fi Alliance certification will test both mandatory and optional components of the IEEE 802.11g standard, including the ability to support 54 Mbps speeds. Backward interoperability with 802.11b products, and performance in mixed 802.11b/802.11g network environments, will also be tested.

Despite the lack of a firm 802.11g standard, competition for the high-growth WLAN market has prompted hardware vendors, including Apple Computer, to push 802.11g products to market. Those products might not meet the certification criteria for 802.11g operation when those criteria are finalized, leading to interoperability problems, especially in networks using products from more than one vendor.

Certified 802.11g products should be available in the fourth quarter of 2003. Until then, Gartner analysts recommended that companies stick to certified 802.11b devices.

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