Apple took a risk when it introduced AirPort Extreme in January 2003. AirPort Extreme relies on the IEEE 802.11g specification, a 54 megabit-per-second enhancement to 802.11b (Wi-Fi or AirPort) that Apple has offered since 1999. The newer spec wasn’t yet approved when Apple shipped their base stations and computers supporting Extreme networking, one of the first manufacturers to do so. The gamble paid off 12-Jun-03 with the ratification of the spec by the IEEE, an engineering standards group.
Last month, reports circulated that the IEEE had reduced 802.11g’s speed from 54 Mbps to less than 25 Mbps, panicking some users who had already invested in 802.11g. Fortunately, the IEEE didn’t change the speed: they were clarifying how much data (throughput) would pass over an AirPort Extreme network in real world situations. Networks always have overhead for processing packets and managing traffic, and 802.11g’s overhead is quite large compared to conventional Ethernet. Greg “Joz” Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of hardware product marketing, said, “There have been no significant changes to the specification,” since January. However, Apple has had to make tweaks along the route and Joz said there would be an update before the end of June that brings AirPort Extreme into full compliance and compatibility.