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Wi-Fi Alliance to brand for enterprise voice

But can't sort out the 802.11n power debate

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The Wi-Fi Alliance has quietly slipped out plans for a certification scheme that could ensure enterprise Wi-Fi equipment will handle voice calls with guaranteed quality - but seems unlikely to settle the 802.11n power debate.

The Alliance plans to launch two programmes this year, Voice Personal and Voice Enterprise, and gives a hint of its plans in a White Paper, which was posted in November.

Voice Personal will launch in the first half of this year, and Voice Enterprise will arrive later, said Karen Hanley, senior director of the Alliance, and the enterprise version will include the 802.11k resource management specification designed to limit power usage, and the 802.11r fast roaming specification designed to let handsets move between access points in an enterprise LAN.

The Alliance's other branding programmes are going well, she said. Two hundred products meet the Alliance's Wi-Fi Protected Setup brand, which allows Bluetooth-like secure pairing between devices and access points, without having to go through the details of WEP and WPA. This set-up can be carried out by pushing a button, using a PIN number or near field communications (NFC) if the device and base station both have NFC built in.

183 products are now certified as supporting the WMM power save specification that keeps handsets alive longer - a major step forward from the days when WMM was the ugly duckling of the Alliance's specifications.

Disappointingly, Hanley was not aware of any plans for the Alliance to step in over the issue of powering enterprise 802.11n access points. Different vendors, including Cisco, Aruba, Meru, Trapeze and Siemens make conflicting claims about the ability of current IEEE 802.3af power over Ethernet to drive dual-radio access points attached to enterprise wireless switches.

The Alliance is more focussed on the vastly larger consumer market, where 802.11n devices are now shipping in large numbers, with an Alliance brand.

The Alliance's efforts to promote Wi-Fi in general are going well, with 450 million users round the world, and one survey finding that 68 percent of users would give up chocolate before they would give up Wi-Fi


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