Fascination with standards is anti-internet


Although there are many people out in the business community who think that solidified international standards are the end-all and be-all of existence (especially in Europe, as this article from ZDNET UK shows), the history of the Internet shows us that innovation occurs before standards are solidified.

I understand the arguments for wanting to play conservative with things and only employ technologies that have achieved some modicum of recognition in the marketplace, but this is not the way to lead, nor is it the way to stay ahead of the competition.

In particular, this article is attempting to show that 802.11a will be more widely adopted due to its status as a standard, while the fledgeling (but more compatible and therefore useful) 802.11g systems will be left behind for consumer only use. Frankly, I don't think we're going to see it, and here is why:

People who are inclined to wait until standards are solidified are the same types of people who stop a deployment when there is a newer, supposedly better standard on the horizon. With promises that "g" will be standardized this summer, I think that the risk-averse corporate types are more likely to put off decisions and wait until there's a clear path.

Early adopters are going to go with the technologies that look most promising, and the cost structure of being able to slowly move people from 802.11b to 802.11g by putting new APs in and then upgrading the existing users on an as- needed basis is going to be very compelling for todays cost-conscious early adopters.

Further, the prices on 802.11g equipment are already plummeting to levels at or near the 802.11b while 802.11a is still staying a bit higher. Expect this to increase as the demand for "g" increases in the home (where wireless is more useful due to the annoyance of rewiring).

Yet further, the range limitations on 802.11a make it a less useful option if the customer is a business and therefore likely to need extended range due to the horizontal nature of most office structures.

All in all, if the carrots like there "a" due to the existence of a standard, then they can have it, but I think there's enough momentum in the "g" world to jump on the bandwagon.

Remembering back to the beginnings of the Internet, we saw a lot of deployments of protocols prior to final specifications and "standardization". HTML, HTTP, SMTP, DNS, FTP, just to name a few, were all in use for years prior to reaching the Standard status.