The IEEE standards group has formally approved 802.11r, a new variant on Wi-Fi that will make it easier for mobile devices to move seamlessly between access points. The technology is particularly useful for VoIP, where a short switching time between hotspots is required for maintaining the flow of conversation.

Also called Fast Basic Service Set Transition, the new standard allows for access point transfers of less than 50ms, which is the maximum time delay stipulated for wireless voice roaming, by establishing the security and quality of service state for the next access point before actually hopping to it.

No immediate plans have been announced for the new wireless standard - and of course city-wide Wi-Fi coverage to fully take advantage of this is still far from being a reality - though the approval should at least mean that the next generation of VoIP phones and other devices will be "roaming-friendly." Meanwhile, the IEEE is still picking its way through the completion of the 802.11n standard, which isn't expected to be ratified until next Spring.