802.11n: Come Together

The 802.11n high-speed wireless LAN standard edged closer to final approval with today's news that the vendors involved in hammering out the specification have adopted the proposal put forward by the Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC).

This means that the proposal can go before the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) task group meeting next week in Hawaii, and the standard could actually be in place by the end of 2006.

EWC was formed last October by Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and backed by major chip vendors like Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) This consortium was opposed by another led by startup Airgo Networks Inc. , which has been early to market with the multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) antenna technology that will allow 802.11n to boost speeds over WiFi networks from today's 54 Mbit/s to up to 600 Mbit/s.

Initially there was some talk that EWC could ignore the standards procedure altogether and produce chips using the specification regardless. (See Waiting for High-Speed WiFi.) But now that EWC is back in the fold, both sides are taking credit.

The final vote saw 40 companies vote for the EWC proposal, two abstaining, and none voting against -- easily topping the 75 percent support required to allow the standard to be put before the IEEE.

“This demonstrates extraordinary support for the EWC-based proposal combined with elements originating from the [joint proposal] team itself,” according to Atheros Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR), one of the firm’s backing EWC.

“We got what we wanted,” noted a spokesperson from AirGo, claiming that draft EWC proposal is “similar” to the draft proposal that was in place before Intel et al. split to form the breakaway group. (See 802.11n Back on Track.)

Analysts see the move as a hopeful sign for the industry.

“It's time to come together,” says Craig Mathias, principal analyst at the Farpoint Group . “I've not seen the draft, but I think that everyone will be happy with it and we'll have a genuine draft standard next week. I think that there will be a few more tweaks, to be sure, but there will be an 802.11n standard before the end of 2006. Everyone involved deserves some credit here.”

While 802.11n, like the previous 802.11g upgrade to the specification, is likely to be more widely adopted by consumers than by enterprises in the short term, the standard's high throughput and extra horsepower could be useful in dense network deployments and for supporting multimedia applications like video-over-WiFi.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:09:30 AM
re: 802.11n: Come Together Okay, who believes that the compromise will stick this time?

Just Curious
freetoair 12/5/2012 | 4:09:27 AM
re: 802.11n: Come Together ho-hum, "so what"
standardsarefun 12/5/2012 | 4:08:55 AM
re: 802.11n: Come Together This latest split and come back story, coupled with the long running, never ending fights in 802.20 and the silliness in 802.15 over UWB makes me wonder if something is not fundamentally wrong with IEEE 802 decision making processes.

Remember that right now the IEEE 802 works by voting (they vote for everything...) with individuals (not companies) holding voting rights after they have personally attended 3 meetings. This means that some big player (sometimes with very bad ideas) can either ram through a solution into a committee or block something by simply sending their entire R&D staff to three meetings.

Isn't it time the IEEE 802 woke up and realised that individuals come from companies and so change the voting to one-per-company? This would mean that no-one can dominate and so the real experts would be encouraged to work by consensus instead of this current business of "I have more bored non-experts in this meeting than you have
and so I win" process.

What do you all think?
IPobserver 12/5/2012 | 4:08:47 AM
re: 802.11n: Come Together Seems like an intractable problem.

A tactic that seems to be used quite a lot GÇ£to speed things upGÇ¥ is to create some kind of industry Forum or Alliance (in which a few big vendors hold sway), then develop the specs you want, and then import the work into an official standards organization for fast-track approval.

Is there anything really wrong with doing it this way?

(Of course, there must be, or we wouldnGÇÖt have Standards Development Organizations).
lrmobile_Ziggy 12/5/2012 | 4:08:46 AM
re: 802.11n: Come Together It does look like the only way to get results in IEEE 802 is to go through an industry Forum. The IEEE 802 SA is then only a tool for the industry forum to get an official approval of their standard.

Why aren't the rules in the IEEE 802 modified? Maybe companies simply prefer to work through an industry Forum. Remember that the IEEE 802 officials are also individuals working for corporations...
standardsarefun 12/5/2012 | 4:08:01 AM
re: 802.11n: Come Together As a parallel article in Unstung notes the other big IEEE 802 fight on UWB has now ending in simple defeat (see http://www.unstrung.com/docume...

If 802 is simply a rubber stamping body then it serves no real purpose.

Looks like the future will be in industrial fora or maybe we will see the return to power of the classic standards bodies like ETSI, ATIS, etc. that know how to vote and then stick to majority decisions.
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