Comms chips

802.11n Merger Approved

The future of high-speed WiFi was given a boost this week as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) allowed two sides of the 802.11n wireless standard more time to work on a merged specification.

The joint proposal team will attempt to provide a draft proposal and a status update at the September 2005 IEEE meeting in Orange County, Calif., Unstrung has learned. As previously reported, the aim is to get a final proposal ready for approval at the IEEE meeting in November of this year (see 802.11n Back on Track).

For those without propeller hats, the 802.11n specification is going to be one of the major drivers of the next generation of WiFi technology. Using multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) technology, the specification is expected to prove data rates of up 600 Mbit/s in high-end systems and much better overall performance than existing WiFi offerings (see 802.11n: WLANs to 600 Mbit/s). This should help to facilitate more voice and video applications for the local area network technology.

But the standard had been stalled until the two main groups working on proposals decided to bury the hatchet earlier this month. The TGn Sync group, backed by Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) among others, and the wWise group, supported by Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) and friends, have been stuck in an impasse over the high-speed technology (see 802.11n Slapfest Ahead). In February, the TGn Sync group won an initial confirmation vote (see IEEE Picks High-Speed Survivor). But the group could never get the 75 percent approval needed in a second confirmation vote that would push the proposal forward as the 802.11n draft.

The motion granting the joint proposal team the time needed to develop a new, merged specification passed with a majority of 175.

So how long before official 802.11n products hit the market?

"In the case of 802.11g it took 14 months between approval of the first draft of the standard and the emergence of the first ‘draft compliant’ products, and another six months for the standard to be finalized," says a spokesperson for chip startup Airgo Networks Inc. "Applying these timeline assumptions leads to ‘real’ 11n-compliant products in the first half of 2007 and WiFi-certified 11n-compliant products in the second half of 2007."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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