While security tops most lists of wireless networking concerns, the new 802.11e standard will help home users set up wireless media networks and allow corporate users to deploy wireless handsets using voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology. This standard improves the quality of service of wireless connections by prioritizing traffic that must get through without delays or glitches, such as streaming video or voice transmissions, Hanzlik said.
It will be available as a software download for just about all wireless networking devices, Hanzlik said.
Upgrading to 802.11e will make wireless VOIP networks a realistic choice for network managers, Vance said. Later this year, handset makers will start rolling out dual-mode phones that support wireless LAN technology such as 802.11 as well as wide-area network standards such as GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), he said.
The BPL might consider moving its VOIP technology to a wireless network with the advent of 802.11e, Coulter said.
In September, the Wi-Fi Alliance will begin certifying products that use a subset of 802.11e called WME (Wireless Media Extensions) technology to improve quality of service. WME identifies packets of voice, video, audio or other types of data and prioritizes their delivery based on traffic conditions. Videos transmitted over wireless networks suffer greatly if packets are delayed or dropped, so that type of data is given priority over others traveling on a network, Hanzlik said.
The full 802.11e standard will include an additional technology called WSM (Wi-Fi Scheduled Media), but the Alliance wanted to make sure products sold during the fourth-quarter holiday season had some form of certification for use in home media networks, Hanzlik said. WSM allocates slices of bandwidth to various types of wireless data, and increases that bandwidth as needed for voice or video applications.