A slew of networking vendors are expected to soon release pre-standard versions of IEEE 802.11g wireless LAN products, which are designed to deliver as much as 54Mbps (bits per second) of bandwidth using the same radio spectrum used by current 11Mbps gear.
Price, along with a longer range, is expected to give the products an edge over 802.11a, which is also designed for 54Mbps but uses a different part of the radio spectrum. That technology hit the market late last year at prices far above those of popular 11Mbps 802.11b networks.
Vendors don't want to be last to get access points and network adapters to market, and some are willing to take a chance and come out with products before the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) finally certifies the standard. That may happen as early as March. Vendors believe the standard is nearly complete already.
Buffalo Technology, D-Link and SMC Networks are all expected to release 802.11g products before the standard is certified. Netgear will not release any 802.11g products until it can find a reliable chip set for the products, according to chairman and CEO Patrick Lo.
As long as they are sure the vendor will support them, users who buy a pre-standard product shouldn't fear getting stuck with something that doesn't work after the standard is complete, said Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at IDC. However, they may pay a price to be the first on the block, he said.