What's next for Wi-Fi?

The huge 11n performance jump -- to 300Mbps data rate and roughly 100M to 150Mbps throughput -- will become the basis for unwiring work and life to a much greater extent than ever before

8. Personal area Wi-Fi

Today, "your" Wi-Fi is a point-to-point connection to an access point. In the future, a Wi-Fi radio in any one of your personal devices will be able to link directly with other client devices. Ozmo Devices, for instance, has low-power silicon to let peripheral devices connect to your laptop via Wi-Fi.

The recently announced Wi-Fi Direct (WFD) project, from the Wi-Fi Alliance, will let a Wi-Fi card in your laptop bypass an access point and link directly with wireless printers, cameras, projectors, sensors or plasma screens. As an industry specification, WFD will introduce new protocols implemented in firmware, but no hardware changes will be needed.

At the same time, Wi-Fi access points will also become enablers of peer-to-peer connections, via the 802.11z standard (scheduled for July 2010 completion), which will offer extensions for direct link setup. In this arrangement, a client device will request from an access point "permission" to connect directly to another nearby client device, without going through the access point. But your client still remains associated with the access point, and its full panoply of security and management services.

"Having these DLS extensions offers some of the efficiencies of direct communications, without surrendering the infrastructure benefits," Trapeze's Gast says.

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John Cox

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