'Outsider' Airgo Approves Of 802.11n Proposal

After a period of infighting, Airgo's approval of a draft for the next-generation of Wi-Fi signals smoother sailing toward a standard providing faster WLANs with greater range.

January 13, 2006

2 Min Read
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Airgo Networks, which many observers believe was the target of a next-generation Wi-Fi standard proposal submitted by consortium of industry heavyweights such as Intel, said Thursday that it approved of the proposal. The endorsement likely further greases the skids for advancement of the next-generation of Wi-Fi at a meeting next week.

Little Airgo has been the primary vendor of pre-standard Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) chipsets that many WLAN equipment vendors have been offering in their products. MIMO, which uses intelligent antenna technology to increase wireless network speeds and range, will be part of the 802.11n standard in some form.

While Airgo took the early lead in developing pre-standard MIMO chipsets, EWC companies like Intel, Broadcom and other vendors in the Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC), had not provided MIMO technology. As a result, many believed the EWC's proposal for the next-generation 802.11n standard was aimed at elbowing Airgo out of the way. That belief was given credence by the fact that Airgo was not part of the EWC and had not previously endorsed the EWC's proposal.

Previously, there were two proposals and the EWC was the third proposal. This week, the Joint Proposal Team of the IEEE group developing the 802.11n standard approved a proposal that harmonizes all three proposals. Next week, the IEEE group is likely ratify the Joint Proposal Team's action and approve that proposal as a first draft with Airgo's approval.

"It is exciting to see that the first 802.11n draft specification will include important features and performance benefits for video, VoIP, cell phones, gaming and multimedia terminals," Greg Raleigh, Airgo's CEO, said in a statement. "Airgo's MIMO technology is at the core the Joint Proposal, and Airgo still ships the only MIMO chipsets in the world today."In the statement, Airgo called the EWC a "special interest group" but noted that the EWC made concessions in its original proposal.

"Airgo fully supports these Joint Proposal 802.11n first draft compromises as reflected by its affirmative vote this week to bring the latest revision of the Joint Proposal into the IEEE 802.11n task group next week," the company said.

If the IEEE 802.11n task group adopts the proposal as a first draft next week in meetings in Hawaii, the group then goes through a process of revisions for the specification. Interoperability testing is tentatively scheduled for early next year with final, standardized products to follow.

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