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« More Voices Opposed to Early Draft N Gear | Main | PC World Pans Draft N Routers »

May 3, 2006

Why Yesterday's Vote Was Uninteresting

By Glenn Fleishman

Airgo is trying to promote the notion that the Task Group N vote yesterday was important: It wasn’t. Airgo is reasonably expressing the strong doubts that many equipment testers and pundits (yours included) have voiced about interoperability and interference between the current draft of what will become 802.11n, and the Draft 1.0 currently under consideration. Draft 1.0 was not accepted by a 75 percent supermajority for passing on to the next stages on the road to ratification yesterday—fewer than 50 percent voted that way—but it’s hardly a surprise. I don’t know how many notes were returned based on the circulated draft, but there was no way, according to my sources, that Draft 1.0 would have moved on to the final stages.

This is pretty normal. Almost all IEEE standards have many drafts, and that’s a good thing. It’s part of the process of accommodating different technical viewpoints and producing something that should be able to be implemented in software, firmware, and hardware. The vote yesterday simply affirms that work is ongoing.

Based on what I have heard, I would not expect a draft to be accepted until the September meeting at earliest. It should be two full cycles (four months) from that acceptance to ratification, if that quickly. But it means that an essentially close-to-final version should be settled by summer, a final version by fall, at which point the Wi-Fi Alliance might start building a certification process for several months after that to ensure interoperability and standards compliance.

Airgo has not yet started producing 802.11n-like chips, while three of its major competitors have. I and others thing the competitors have made a huge mistake, as have their manufacturing partners for reasons cited all over this blog, including no guaranteed upgradability to the final 802.11n standard. However, Airgo has every motivation in the world to trumpet any failure to advance. I don’t believe that they were philosophically opposed to early Draft N chips; I think it’s a business decision to reduce costs and possibly an execution decision based on their ability to get chips to market. Regardless of the true causes of their position, they have the moral high ground, as does Belkin, which has chosen to not ship until the draft is further along.

Posted by Glennf at May 3, 2006 10:26 AM

Categories: Draft N, Task Group N


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