WPA2 in mid-2004?

Our Tuesday story on WPA missed another important announcement.

"There are also plans to add additional security capabilities to WPA with the next version of WPA called WPA2. Products certified for WPA2 are anticipated to be available in the middle of 2004."

WPA2 is the Wi-Fi Alliance’s moniker for the 802.11i standard and incorporates stronger AES-based encryption as well as other features that the industry elected not to incorporate into WPA.

From Wi-Fi Protected Access Media Presentation (PDF)

The above slide taken from the Alliance’s presentation to the media at the Las Vegas 2004 Networld+Interop show summarizes the differences between WPA and WPA2. Two of the most notable are support for WLANs operating in BSS (AdHoc) mode and use of stronger AES-CCMP encryption.

As noted in our Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) NeedToKnow - Part II, AES requires a considerable amount of compute power. Prospective users of WPA2 should expect it to be supported only on 802.11g or a/b/g products, which have built the requisite hardware processing into their chipsets.

This may make support for WPA2 by equipment manufacturers even worse than their lackluster efforts with WPA in 802.11g products and virtually non-existent upgrades for 802.11b products. Unless something changes, WPA2 will face a slow, tough, slog toward widespread availability.

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