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As the IEEE prepares to finally ratify the 802.11n wireless standard in
early September, VARs are jockeying to position themselves with the right mix
of products and services to meet an expected uptick in wireless projects.

According to a report released by ABI
Research, analysts project that by 2011 Wi-Fi chip-set vendors will ship 1
billion units per year. Not only that, but the breadth of new products
increases daily. This month the analysts at In-Stat released a report that
showed more than 1,000 new Wi-Fi products were unleashed in 2008.

“Even in these economic times, our market is still growing at double-digit
so we’re going very strong,” says Ed Figueroa, director of the WiFi Alliance.
With better range and throughput than its 802.11g standard predecessor, 802.11n
has been in the making for several years now. IEEE voted to pass the first
draft of the standard back in 2006 and, even though it wasn’t sanctioned by the
IEEE, the Wi-Fi Alliance certified Draft 2.0 802.11n-compliant products as
early as 2007.

According to Figueroa, in 2009 just the products shipping with Draft 2.0
802.11n protocol certifications alone will make up the entire size of the
wireless LAN market in 2007. Analysts say
that’s a trend that is only going to increase following n’s ratification.
“802.11n will be the dominant protocol shipped during 2010,” says Philip Solis,
research practice director for ABI Research.
“There will be no looking back as single stream 11n chip sets increasingly
replace 802.11g products.”

VARs that have embraced Draft 2.0 n products into their reselling repertoire
have already seen benefit from the product before ratification.
“802.11n is absolutely amazing,” says Rick Lindahl, president of Lake Oswego,
Ore.-based Invictus Networks, a wireless integrator. “We’re seeing a huge
uptick both in the take rates and in the interest by enterprise and small to
medium businesses.”

Nevertheless, many risk-averse enterprises have held back on 802.11n
deployments due to its draft status. These organizations are sticking with
a/b/g infrastructures as IEEE gets its ducks in a row in order to finally make
802.11n official.