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Development Of 802.11n Standard Hits A Snag

Depending on whom you listen to, the battle over the development of a standard around next-generation 802.11n technology is either close to being resolved or destined to drag on until at least mid-2007.

After much haggling over minute details, TGn Sync and WwiSE—the two industry groups working to develop the standard—recently agreed to work together to come up with a single proposal in time for the IEEE’s November session.

Last week at the World Broadband Forum, Michael Hurlston, vice president of Broadcom’s wireless and home networking unit, said the standard would be finalized by mid-2006. Hurlston added that once this happens, it wouldn't take long for interoperable 802.11n products to reach the market.

But last month’s revelation that WLAN chip makers Atheros, Broadcom, Intel and Marvell were moving outside the IEEE process to work on some of the technical aspects of 802.11n is a major complication. “Having these four companies working on details on NDA outside the IEEE process is going to delay the standard a couple of quarters,” said Sam Lucero, senior analyst at ABI Research.

The bottom line with 802.11n is whether it can do the job, said Jack Davis, president and CEO of wireless integrator Sideband Systems, Beverly, Mass. “Most users are only interested in whether the technology does a more cost-effective job,” he said. “I think 802.11n would, in fact, be cost-effective—if you need that much bandwidth.”

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