When Apple introduced the new 802.11n-based AirPort Extreme Base Station during Macworld Expo 2007, it also announced that most Core 2 Duo Macs where already compatible once a software update was applied. Unless you are purchasing a new Base Station, however, the update will cost you US$1.99, according to CNET News.
Although the cost is salt in the wound for some Mac owners, the price is lower than the $4.99 initially reported.
The reasoning behind charging for the updater that unlocks the 802.11n features in new Macs comes down to accounting. Apple spokesperson Lynn Fox commented "The nominal distribution fee for the 802.11n software is required in order for Apple to comply with generally accepted accounting principles for revenue recognition, which generally require that we charge for significant feature enhancements, such as 802.11n, when added to previously purchased products."
The 802.11n wireless networking protocol, which still hasnit been ratified as a standard, is intended to offer faster and more reliable network connections than the 802.11b and g standards already used in Appleis wireless networking products. In addition to the new AirPort Extreme Base Station, 802.11n is also found in the AppleTV home theater appliance that is due to ship in February.