Most of our readers may already know this, but for those who do not, the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) is an organization that promotes Wi-Fi technology and also helps certify Wi-Fi products to ensure interoperability. It was formed around 1999 when the wireless industry was experiencing major interoperability problems because the IEEE itself does not have compliance or interoperability standards for products based on its specifications.*
Today, many believe the wireless industry is one of the most innovative sectors in tech because of the WFA and the standards and certifications it provides. Products that use 802.11 technologies are almost always stamped with the Wi-Fi Alliance logo, so consumers know that their wireless equipment will interoperate with other 802.11-capable devices.
On June 19th, the WFA launched its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ ac certification program, which will ensure that all devices with 802.11ac capabilities are interoperable. This certification is based on the draft standard of 802.11ac, as the IEEE is still working on final ratification of the protocol. This is essentially the same path the WFA followed with 802.11n, which was highly successful and stimulated migration to 802.11n even before the specification was ratified.
There are several vendors that have already gone through the process – Dong Ngo of CNET lists a few here.
So, how does 802.11ac certification help you, the consumer, and the wireless vendor? Certification is really quite important for everyone. From the consumer point of view, it allows you to find the products that best suit your needs, regardless of brand, and gives you the peace of mind that all of your purchases, regardless of brand, will work together. From the manufacturers point of view, it drives confidence overall in the market, allowing all manufacturers to benefit from a strong marketplace. This has certainly been the case with Wi-Fi technology, and I think we can safely say that the WFA has played a very key role in the overall success of Wi-Fi.
So, as a consumer myself, you can bet that when I’m buying Wi-Fi equipment, whether for home or for the office, I only buy equipment with the Wi-Fi logo!
*Sourced from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Alliance