It seems Apple will definitely charge $5 for enabling the draft-802.11n feature on Intel-based Macs due to a requirement in US law. It turns out that it's all to do with Enron. Oh, and Apple being too secretive.
So how do we know Apple will levy the charge? Steve Jobs said so. A reader of US-blog Wi-Fi Networking News emailed him to ask if the rumour was true. Jobs replied to the mail and said, minimally: "It's the law." It's not unusual for Jobs to reply to a random email - he has done so previously to emails from our sister magazine MacFormat .
The US Sarbanes-Oxley Act means that a vendor isn't allowed to activate an extra function after a product has been bought. It's one of those bizarre accounting things. As the product will have an extra feature, companies are only able to recognise revenue from it after the feature has been enabled. Still with us?
You'd have thought it was an archaic act. But it isn't. It was signed off by George W. Bush in 2002, as a subsequence of the Enron collapse.
This gets better, doesn't it?
If you want to read all the boring stuff about the act, see Wikipedia . For us, what it boils down to is that if Apple had admitted the Macs were draft-802.11n capable in the first place, it wouldn't have the problem. And wouldn't have to levvy the $5 charge.
However, if you buy the draft-802.11n Airport Extreme Base Station from Apple, you'll get the patch on the included CD.
We're waiting to hear from Apple exactly how much this will cost UK users, but heaven forbid if the patch should escape from the Airport Extreme disc onto the web.
Not all Intel-based Macs have the new chip, but 802.11n support does show clearly in the System Profiler if it's there.