802.11n: Come Together
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