back to article Wi-Fi: You old new smoothie?

The IEEE has formally approved 802.11r, the amendment to the Wi-Fi standard that allows devices to smoothly transition between Wi-Fi hotspots without breaking the flow of conversation. 802.11r allows a mobile device to move smoothly between hotspots, with connections never suspending for more than 50 milliseconds. Inaudible to …


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  1. Owen Parry

    Is is just me...

    ...or is it hard to care about this? I'm with El Reg hat they ought to stop messing with voice capability and concentrate on Wide Band data transmission.

    802.11N FTW!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    what ever happed to a real wireless bonded channel spec!

    by far the more interesting spec to concentrate on would be the auto bonding of 2 or more freqs to make it far easyer for end users to make their own increased wireless data pipes.

    the fact 11b/g/n only have 3 totally indipendant channels is a travasty, there should be far more allowed and allocated for use today in 11n at least, but even taking these 3 channels and bonding them together could provide 66Mbit realthroughput after overheads in generic 11g, and far more in 11n to the average end users.

    the problem is wireless Bonding not being put forward as a real standard for the end users kit today and thats a real shame.

  3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    And now...

    802.11z - A new variation of the popular 802.11 protocol addressing concerns that the standard will soon run out of meaningless alphabetic version codes. The 'z' standard will never be complete, thus allowing infinite future expenses, I mean expansions, without the need to change protocols. New features will be added at random, nothing may be certified as compatible, and the killer feature set is always just around the corner.

    Municipal WiFi will find the 802.11z "can" implementation especially economic. As allowed by the 'z' specs, the "can" supports an unlimited number customers in a 5 mile radius any throughput possible, including zero. Being literally a can of soup, the modules need no hard wiring, draw little power, and require no complicated routing to form a continuous mesh of tasty bandwidth.

    Hardcore gamers will be interested in the 802.11z "fanboi." This version offers virtually unlimited throughput by sending multiple channels of ultra-broadband wireless signals over cheap Cat 6 cable. Problems with FCC certification and line-of-site obstructions are completely eliminated. Manufactures are encouraged to inject faults into their implementations to ensure a steady stream of "newer is better" upgrades. Carcinogenic emissions of Reality Distortion Fields are allowed and unsupported.

  4. Duncan Hare

    Confusing technology with operations.

    El Reg is confusing technology with operations.

    In the US TMobile has a wifi hot-spot service. It works well. 802.11r will make it work better, and enable Mobile to compete for clients from the other cell carries.

    My minutes have gone down for 4500/month to 2800/month (and my bill has gone down proportionally).

    "El Reg hat they ought to stop messing with voice capability and concentrate on Wide Band data transmission"

    Perhaps El Reg should cut down the snark, get off their fat posteriors,,and take individual responsibility for paying and minimizing their own cells bills.

    How can you write so clearly with your heads in that position?

  5. Tony Hoyle

    Of course 50 milliseconds is best case

    Between the two wifi networks I have access to it's about half an hour by car... I'd love to see them handle that handover smoothly.

    OTOH my 3G dongle works (nearly) everywhere, even when on the move, and costs next to nothing to run. It's a solved problem, and the solution is not Wifi.

  6. easyk

    how you say...

    I propose the new WiFi standard 802.11whiff whereby the pronunciation formally becomes Whiffy instead of the preposterous sounding why-fie

  7. Anonymous Coward

    @ Tony

    I love your definition of "costs next to nothing" ... Mobile data rates are extortionate. Sorry but wifi is still a solution, if only because it is in many cases free* (where 3G never will be) and because having competing enterprise wifi networks might finally bring down prices overall.

    * Between home, office and cafes, hotels etc with complimentary wifi.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Anonymous Coward

    They're not extortionate if you're with the right provider.

    I get 3 GB a month over HSDPA from T-mobile for £7

    If you were to run voip* at 192Kbps over that, you'd get over 2155 minutes for £7 a month. Puts it in perspective.

    Also, WiFi eats battery life.

    * you can't as it's against the ToS, but I don't use my phone for conversation much anyway. 3GB is a lot of web browsing and mail.

    For £30 / month you can get 10GB allowance with voip allowed. AND unlimited hotspot access.

  9. Christian Berger

    Mobile phone networks are broken by design

    Mobile phone networks are broken by design, they are centralized and track your location constantly. I cannot imagine that any company can afford the position of it's employees being sold to the competitors.

  10. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Down


    Mr Coward talks of complimentary wifi in cafes and hotels.

    Whilst I do sometimes use a very good free cybercafe in Swanage, it is my general experience that in the UK wifi normally costs more for a couple of hours than the monthly subscription to a 3G network that my employer refuses to fund.

    Only in the UK and Switzerland have I been asked to pay for wifi in hotels, (or indeed ethernet connectivity). In civilised countries and the USA it is free.

    And while Mcdonalds does free wifi I am not prepared to eat the food provided.

  11. Edward Hull

    re: what ever happed to a real wireless bonded channel spec!

    okay, so you start using three bonded channels in you flat/home.

    What happens next? you get a visit from ofcom because your neighbors have complained that their WiFi is no-longer reliable and they have determined that you are using the entire allocated WiFi spectrum for one connection and in the process being extreamly inconsiderate to other users.

    Bonded channel spec is not happening precisely because there are so few unique channels.

    Consider petitioning ofcom for more channel space or consider if you really need the massive extra speed. Can your internet connection support it? do you need the speed if it does? 10Mbs is enough to watch streamed video if your link signal is good enough.

  12. John H Woods Silver badge

    @Robert E A Harvey,

    You don't have to eat the food in McDonalds, the cofee is acceptable. The wifi is good although you have to enter your email address "" usually does the trick.

    Whereas in Starbucks you have to pay for Wifi, even when the coffee, whilst better, requires a mortgage. I went in the other day and sat down without a drink.

    "Excuse me sir, are you making an order?"

    "No, I'm just using your wifi"

    "Sorry, sir, the wifi is for customers only"

    "The wifi is free for customers?"

    "Err no"

    "Well I've just bought an hour of connectivity"

    "But it's for customers only"

    "But if I've just bought wifi, then I _AM_ a customer"

    "No, you have to buy something else"

    So I left the shop, sat on a bench outside, and continued to use their wifi until my hour was up. Never will again though.

  13. Craig
    Paris Hilton

    IEEE Standards Association

    I used to be a member of the IEEE Standards Association and this is just another example of why I gave up... The bureaucracy and delays inherent in the approvals system slows down even the most simple of amendments or new standards.

    Yes, I understand it has to be "right first time" for a standard to be approved but to take over 3 years to approve simple 802.11 stuff is just pathetic.

    Other IEEE standards do go quicker, the massive vested interests in 802.11 stuff means it adds a year over normal speeds.

    I have more than a sneaking suspicion that some manufacturers deliberately want to break the IEEE approvals chain so that they can publish their own proprietary standards and screw their competitors.

    Paris because even she could understand and approve the stuff faster than the so called experts.

  14. Pete


    Free WiFi and a pint, can't beat it when you're on holiday in torquay and it's pissing down with rain.

    And the speed was pretty nippy as well, I never did a speed test but it felt nice and fast!

  15. Richard Cartledge

    Drive thru'

    "And while Mcdonalds does free wifi I am not prepared to eat the food provided."

    - It does reach into the car park.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Free

    You can add the following countries where I have been asked to pay for WiFi in Hotels.







    South Africa




    Yes, its not always free in the USofA.

    There are probably hotels in all the above countries that do provide free WiFi but my experiences of chains like Intercontinental, Holiday Inn etc do charge.

    Quite why they feel the need on a 300-400Euro per night room is quite beyond me but that is a different topic.

    Needless to say, I usually can find a cafe with free Wifi to do my emails. Paying up to 30euros per day for a few emails is plain crazy. Yes, I know that it could justify a Blackberry on cost alone but my company thinks they are a toy.

    Mines the coat with the laptop in the inside pocket.

  17. The Aussie Paradox

    @Kevin McMurtrie


    I am interested in what you are selling and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    I for one welcome our Wi-Fi dwelling overlords.

  18. Steve

    Free WiFi

    I also find that US hotels do not always offer free wifi, and the more expensive the hotel the less likely it is.

    The trick, though, is to sign up for the frequent guest programs with all the chains. Often that gets you free wifi, even if you're not actually staying in the hotels. Works very well for Fairmont, for example.

  19. Beard
    IT Angle

    Really a lot of scope in Wi-Fi

    This guy may well be right about a lack of corporate uptake in this area, but really, the possibility for local wireless communications may not be best geared towards a traditional business, no matter its technological credentials.

    I see the most exciting possibilities for wireless networking as being in taking very local communications out of central servers and skipping the government / corporation step altogether.

    Imagine your phone or whatever walking about a city, in a soup of roving nodes, getting local (as in shop, not as in host) data from those nodes, passing it about, be it phone calls or web pages or whatever. Bandwidth-sharing as a philosophy might not rub with many people, but the cost benefits would be fantastic, particularly to private individuals in leisure time, and business types in a large business centre like Canary Wharf.

    Furthermore, there have been several high-profile stories in the wider media recently regarding government and corporate snooping - BitTorrent monitoring, Phorm, ID databases, etc. I think many people will begin to see the benefits in allowing less of this information to pass through machines in companies and governments.

    But facilitating a work-around of the corporation is hardly something the corporation will push. There *is* space in hardware and technical level software for an organised enthusiasts' group to push decentralised communications in this way. This is how we have come to mass BitTorrent usage after all.

  20. Mo

    No uptake?

    Let's see, the serviced offices I'm in? Free wifi for all tenants and visitors (there's a Café on the middle floor), with encrypted/authenticated VPN access to the tenant’s VLANs if required.

    If I go into the city centre, I can't move for useable networks. My iPod touch has Wifi most places, thanks to a £3.99/month subscription to The Cloud (the only exceptions seem to be places where BT OpenZone or T-Mobile have muscled in first, with their exceptionally expensive Wifi-only packages). If I really have to, I can fall back to my 3G phone, but in all honesty it's rare most places I go.

    Femtocells are currently even more bluesky than metropolitan WLAN. It's probably more likely to happen (although very likely restricted to the enterprise space), but it's hardly the case that people are dropping Wifi for cellular all over the shop.

  21. Trix

    Free wifi?

    I haven't yet stayed in a hotel that offers free wi-fi, not in the US, UK, NZ or Australia. No, you still have to pay ridiculous sums like $50 a night or $10/hr to get access.

  22. Chris Hamilton

    @ Robert EA Harvey

    The largest hotel chain in the world, Accor, (owner of such worldwide brands as Ibis, F1, Motel 6, Etap, Novotel, Mercure and many more) charges for WiFi in every single hotel in the world under its stewardship.

    They do offer it for more reasonable prices than others (10EUR/24h), and have started throwing in a full multimedia package for the price but I think it disproves your theory.

    However, it has been a while since I paid for WiFi in the UK. I can usually find an unsecured network, and where I can't I just give £15 to 3 for a months HSDPA access (heck of a lot cheaper than WiFi).

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