The Infrared Data Association is expected to ratify a high-speed version of its infrared wireless networking standard this week. The Very Fast Infrared specification increases the data rate of standards-based infrared LAN equipment from 4 Mbps to 16 Mbps.
This summer, the IrDA is also expected to approve the Advanced Infrared specification, which will let access points receive infrared connections in a 180-degree radius from as far as 10 meters away and operate at data rates of up to 4 Mbps. By comparison, the 4-Mbps and 16-Mbps standards can connect devices only 1 meter away from a receiver, and devices can be no more than 15 degrees from the infrared port.
However, analysts say higher speed is not what infrared LAN devices need most. Laptops connected to switches via a dedicated 4-Mbps connection generally have more than enough bandwidth available to them. "For a dedicated connection, 4 Mbps is fast enough for most people," says Greg Naderi, IT market analyst at Frost & Sullivan Inc. "What we need is a solution that is turnkey and easily interpolates with other devices. That's still not there yet."
Products based on Very Fast Infrared are not expected to be available for at least a year.