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In what sounds like a terrible, terrible idea, Intel, Atheros, Broadcom, and Marvell are putting together another Task Group N proposal: While the IEEE standards process was working to align the interests of disparate industries interesting in the next-generation wireless data networking specification that will supercede (and include) 802.11g, four chipmakers may derail the process.
EE Times reports that Intel, Atheros, Broadcom, and Marvell, which have been in two competing camps (Broadcom in one; the other three in the other) for months have met outside the standards group. The two remaining 802.11n proposals in play—TGn Sync and WWiSE—are in the process of merging for a single proposal that would take the day.
This effort by the four chipmakers may arouse anti-trust issues since it was outside a public standards process. Other members of both 802.11n proposal groups are apparently peeved, too, because they didn’t know this was going on.
It could throw Task Group N entirely off its stride as the politics and legalities burble through. Only one of the four chipmakers would comment in the article, and their response isn’t placating at all. The reason for standards processes is to create a playing field that benefits consumers and manufacturers alike by allowing technology to interoperate on a fundamental level. This group bodes ill for a nearer-term ratification of 802.11n. We may now be looking at mid-2007 instead of late 2006.
Belkin’s second-generation MIMO product gets rave for price, performance from PC World: The new Belkin Wireless G Plus (no longer Pre-N, thank you very much) gateway and PC Card perform nearly as well as the previous devices with a lower price tag: $100 versus $150 for the gateway; $80 versus $100 for the PC Card.
The Pre-N name must have caused Belkin enough distracting grief that their revised line-up is now labeled Wireless G Plus: Their new MIMO products are a huge drop in price using the latest Airgo chips, with a router at $100 (suggested retail), PC Card at $80, and USB adapter at $90. The new PC Card and router will ship in August; the USB adapter in December.
Ah, comity for the future of Wi-Fi: The two leading contenders with no clear supermajority for the 802.11n specification have agreed to merge, Tony Smith of The Register writes. The two proposals will be merged, and then submitted at the September IEEE meeting, with a final version available in November at which time one would expect the 75-percent vote threshold to succeed.
From accepting a draft to ratification could take a year or longer, but we’re likely to see versions in silicon based on the September compromise to judge by previous wireless specification timetables.
The proposals had some minor but important technical differences, some of which relate to what will be mandatory and what optional in the final version. By allowing some mandatory elements in one proposal to be optional in the merged version, this should provide everyone the wiggle room they want. There are some deeper technical differences about signal performance that only engineers can work out the details of.
The two proposals for 802.11n promise speeds of at least 200 Mbps with a higher ration of throughput to symbol rate (not about 50 percent or less as with 802.11g, but more like 75 percent or higher)—and rates that could reach 600 Mbps with the most antennas and greatest potential bandwidth.