Updated The Wi-Fi Alliance today announced that it is getting close to completing a new specification for direct connection among wireless clients without using a wireless router or access point.
The upcoming spec has been dubbed "Wi-Fi Direct" and will essentially replace the Ad Hoc mode that has always existed for 802.11a,b,g and n devices. Any Wi-Fi enabled device will be able to support Wi-Fi Direct and the spec is said to target both consumer and enterprise applications.
According to Kelly Davis-Felner, Marketing Director for the Alliance, Wi-Fi Direct isn't ad-hoc mode at all. It's a soft-AP protocol, similar to peer-to-peer wireless functionality already available from Intel (My WiFi) and Atheros (Direct Connect).
Perhaps Wi-Fi Direct's most significant improvements over Ad Hoc mode is that it isn't limited to 11 Mbps maximum link rate (it supports up to 802.11n link rates). It also features the most advanced level of wireless security, WPA2 and automatic wireless security setup via Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS).
Other Wi-Fi Direct features will include enterprise management tools such as the ability to block device detection and "suggest" channel use. Automatic device discovery and service advertisement will also improve ease of use. Devices will be able to make a one-to-one connection, or a group of several devices can connect simultaneously. Wi-Fi Direct will not reduce available bandwidth, but can reduce effective device-to-device range due to the lack of a centrally-located wireless router or access point to relay traffic.
Atheros issued a statement saying "Direct Connect is fully future-compatible with the new Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct specification". And Wi-Fi Net News reported that "Intel said via email that Wi-Fi Direct would be incorporated into Intel My WiFi".
The Wi-Fi Alliance plans to publish its peer-to-peer specification upon completion, and will begin certifying devices for the Certified Wi-Fi Direct designation in "mid-2010".