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UWB Derails But Wi-Fi Stays On Track

Colorado Springs, Colo. -- Two critical decisions at last week's IEEE 802 meeting in Waikoloa, Hawaii, underscore the different paths possible when implementation choices appear to be at loggerheads. Because the 802.15.3a effort to develop a common ultrawideband standard could find no common ground between the multiband-OFDM and direct-sequence groups, the project authorization request was officially abandoned.

But in 802.11, the groups working on a higher-speed .11n standard agreed unanimously to a compromise draft, even though many outside the Enhanced Wireless Consortium expressed frustration that the Intel-led EWC held up a draft for two months with little apparent reason. The draft now moves to a March vote in Denver, followed by letter ballots in the summer. Although participants emphasized last week that no vendor should yet claim to sample or ship silicon that is "802.11n-ready," Broadcom Corp. scheduled a press conference to claim immediate "draft 802.11n" silicon. It did not claim a final-standard guarantee, however.

Greg Raleigh, chief executive of Airgo Networks Inc., said all camps will benefit from the fact that the IEEE does not allow bloc voting, a mandate that he said the EWC tried to disrupt by suggesting that its coalition could replace the 802.11n work.

"Consider all proposals on their merits, but don't create a new vehicle to bypass the process," he said. "Airgo definitely felt that the EWC was not the way the standards process should work, and we were glad to see the Wi-Fi Alliance make clear that it would not participate in EWC efforts outside 802.11."

Raleigh said that "the politics of the last week seemed to be related to EWC members wanting to be able to say that their implementations are compatible with the first draft, but we think it is absolutely irresponsible for vendors from any camp to claim that their silicon is '802.11n-ready.' "

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