Fast Wi-Fi standard set to splinter

Just when we thought the fast Wi-Fi standard was well underway, it looks like the big chip-makers are about to undermine an agreement in the IEEE.

Intel, Broadcom, Atheros and Marvell have formed an alliance to work on a MAC for fast Wi-Fi, which will be presented to the IEEE in November, at the same time as the official IEEE 802.11n fast Wi-Fi task group is due to report, according to a story in EE Times.

Intel and the rest have not explained the move in any detail, but are already being accused of trying to take over the IEEE process, even to the extent of allegedly violating anti-trust laws -- by excluding other players such as Airgo, which makes the only widely adopted chips in the market which use MIMO technology intended to double Wi-Fi speeds.

Airgo's party in the IEEE standards process, WWISE, threw in its lot with Intel's TGnSynch proposal, in a truce in July.

Working groups that meet outside the IEEE's process are a legitimate approach to sorting out technical details before an IEEE deadline -- and have been widely used in efforts to create standards before. However, this group is raising questions, because it appears to ignore Airgo despite its lead in the market.

One industry insider predicted that the current storm was based on Airgo "mouthing off", and predicted it would blow over because the group's actual proposals would eventually have to come before the IEEE and face scrutiny.

"The 802.11 brand has a lot of cachet," said IEEE 802 chairman Bob Heile. "A non-IEEE solution would have a big uphill battle."

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Peter Judge

Techworld.com
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