802.11n: The Results Are In

802.11n: The Results Are In

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Written By Eric Sandler

By Eric Griffith

March 17, 2005

The vote for the future of high-speed Wi-Fi took place last night in Atlanta, but the results are inconclusive, meaning no first draft.

Looks like the fight for 802.11n will continue, as voting on a first draft has not led to a conclusive winner.

Yesterday in Atlanta during the IEEE 802.11 Working Group’s Plenary Meeting, voting took place within Task Group N (TGn), which is working toward creating the 802.11n standard that will become the future specification for high-speed Wi-Fi with speeds well over 100Mbps.

As partial proposals (and a couple of full proposals from Qualcomm and Motorola) have dropped by the wayside, members of the Task Group have been picking sides. They’ve had to choose between the World-Wide Spectrum Efficiency (WWiSE) consortium (backed by Motorola, Airgo, Broadcom, Conexant and others) and TGn Sync (with support from Intel, Atheros, Qualcomm, Sony and more).

For one group’s proposal to become the basis for the standard, it needed to garner a full 75 percent or more of the down-select vote. Neither got it.

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TGn Sync led with 56 percent (180 votes) to WWiSE’s 44 percent (140 votes). TGn Sync also had a slight majority at the last IEEE meeting.

Because there was no 75 percent majority, neither proposal will be considered a “first draft” for 802.11n at this time.

According to PR sources for the company Airgo Networks, which is taking a de facto leadership position within WWiSE, both groups’ representatives “acknowledge compromise and merger is now necessary to meet the confirmation requirement, given that there is insufficient support for TGn Sync as presently described. TGn Sync and WWiSE will hold discussions to determine how the proposals may be merged.”

Both proposals are based heavily on the use of MIMO (multiple-in, multiple out) technology, so in theory compromise would not be too difficult. The divergence between the groups may be difficult to overcome, though, as their differences seem to be as much philosophical (i.e, wanting to work with all the world’s regulatory bodies vs. expecting those bodies to change regulation) as they are technical.

To get an actual first draft for 802.11n in place will take at least one more, if not two more, IEEE meetings. The group meets every two months, with the next sessions in May and July of this year. Merger discussions between WWiSE and TGn Sync could very well take place outside of the meetings, which might lead to a fast track draft for the next meeting. If not, and if TGn Sync still can’t get 75 percent in the May meeting, the final proposals that were considered by the Task Group will get another chance for consideration — meaning WWiSE is back on the table.

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