802.11n: Expect Delays Ahead

802.11n: Expect Delays Ahead

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Written By Eric Sandler

Despite the industry barreling ahead with the release of Draft-N products based on the 1.0 draft of 802.11n, the high-speed Wi-Fi standard isn’t likely to get another vote until January 2007, rather than next month as many had hoped. That means there won’t be a 2.0 draft for at least six months.

Network World reports that the IEEE Task Group E in the 802.11 Working Group has 12,000 comments to go through. These were in response to the release of the 1.0 draft. Half have been addressed — many are simple editorial changes to the written spec. Many are duplicates. The process is described as “tedious and time-consuming.”

So far, one sticking point continues to be how 802.11n should combine 20MHz channels into a single 40MHz channel, doubling throughput of the Wi-Fi signal.Draft-N products have taken a constant knock for their inability to work well together, enough so that chip-making rivals Broadcom and Atheros actually got together long enough to pledge that products using their Draft-N chips will interoperate.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg said after testing a Draft-N product from Belkin that while it performed better than existing 802.11g equipment (especially with all equipment from the same vendor), so did last year’s MIMO-equipped routers. Those products used chips from Airgo Networks, which had a lock on the market until this year.

Airgo usually is the loudest when trumpeting the problems Draft-N brings to the table, but other chipmakers have said and continue to say that the issues will be easily addressed. The inner workings and procedures of the IEEE and its voting, however, mean the gears grind slowly, and that will continue for Task Group N.

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