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802.11n Wi-Fi Standard Back On Track

After much quarreling, the groups responsible for determining wireless standards are closer to reaching a compromise. If the revised draft being presented next week is approved, we can expect to see Wi-Fi devices using the new 802.11n standard available within the next 12 to 18 months.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, formed a group over a year ago to lay the groundwork for the next wireless standard known as MIMO or multiple input, multiple output, which will quadruple data rates for wireless local area networks.

Progress towards the new standard ground to a near halt this past spring when groups from Intel and Airgo Networks, a small company which ships the only MIMO chips currently available, reached a stalemate over Intel-backed proposals. IEEE leaders then ordered the two groups to form a joint team to reach a compromise on specifications.

Intel countered in October by forming the Enhanced Wireless Consortium, or EWC, along with 26 other companies including Broadcom and Marvell. The EWC planned on submitting a proposal to the IEEE during its November meeting when the joint group was to submit its revised proposal. Airgo and other companies cried foul, claiming the entire standards process was being "hijacked." Not surprisingly, no proposal was agreed upon. After it became clear that device makers still wanted the IEEE seal of approval, even those within the EWC, Intel and others once again began working more closely with the joint proposal team.

Finally, after much drama and deal making, most involved in the process appear to be satisfied. Changes were made to appease handheld device makers, who had concerns that 802.11n power requirements would leave them in the dark, without sacrificing speed. The open nature of the standards process has been re-established, and the revised proposal is expected to get the 75 percent vote needed when the task group meets next week in Hawaii to make it an official standards draft.

News source: CNET News.com

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