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No, I'm Not Happy

The recent vote on the IEEE 802.11n draft is no cause for celebration, and it shouldn’t be.

May 4, 2006

2 Min Read
No, I'm Not Happy

4:40 PM -- A lot of people have been coming up to me here at the Interop show in sunny (or so they tell me; I spend my days at Interop indoors) Las Vegas, saying how pleased I must be that the vote to advance the .11n draft failed. This would be an obvious assumption given my position on claiming compliance with the draft, which is obviously unfavorable to those who do so. Again, for the record, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) doesn’t like the idea, and neither do I.

The failure of the vote is, however, no way a vindication of my position. While I’ve heard that some present and voting are just as irritated as I am with those marketing departments jumping the gun, this was really just a procedural matter. It’s very rare indeed (in fact, I can’t remember this ever happening) that a first draft, put on the table for discussion, was approved as a standard. I couldn’t see this happening for, say, a nutcracker, let alone a complex radio technology based on MIMO antenna technology. I expect, as I’ve said before, that there will be quite literally hundreds of changes to the draft, many more than minor, before it’s finally approved and issued. All of this does, however, further reinforce my previous conclusion that upgradeability of “draft” products to the final spec will likely not be possible.

But the failure of a vote is regardless no cause for celebration on anyone’s part. I’d prefer we get to the standard sooner than later, and I still think we’ll have one sooner than a year from now, more than a year being the current official estimate. But I’d also prefer that the standard be of the usual exceptional quality that typifies what the IEEE does. As an IEEE member, and as a future user of .11n, I want, expect, and demand no less.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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