The IEEE 802.11 Working Group has concluded its work on 802.11e specification. The standard bolsters the MAC layer of 802.11 chips so they can set traffic priorities for video, audio and voice on WiFi networks. It is not as if vendors can take full advantage of the new specifications right now as this will have to wait on word from the Wi-Fi Alliance. The Alliance has been testing a subset of the 802.11e's draft specification, informally referred to as WMM (for WiFi Multimedia), for a year now. Observers note that the Alliance took a similar approach to WPA, which is a subset of 802.11i. When 11i was finalized, the Alliance updated its test to WPA2 to accommodate the final version of 802.11i.
Yes, 802.11e makes video transmission over WiFi networks easier, but companies active in the consumer market, where wireless video will be most in demand, say it does not do enough because it addresses a problem which is relatively easy to solve (that is, offering rather rudimentary hardware prioritization for differentiation of some classes of service). Ruckus Wireless' Bill Kish argues that the more immediate problem for consumers of video and voice over wireless is link stabilization, something 802.11n would address. Ruckus' BeamFlex technology (mixing seven smart antennas and 127 antenna signals) also addresses this problem.
For more on on 802.11e:
- see Eric Griffith's wi-fiplanet report