802.11n Wi-Fi Draft Fails To Gain Approval

Watch out for a 2.0 version of an 802.11n draft standard for high data rate Wi-Fi. The first vote by members of the IEEE 802.11 working group on Draft 1.0

May 3, 2006

2 Min Read
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LONDON — Watch out for a 2.0 version of an 802.11n draft standard for high data rate Wi-Fi. The first vote by members of the IEEE 802.11 working group on Draft 1.0 failed to reach the 75 percent majority required for acceptance.

Worryingly for the standards process, the draft also failed to garner a simple majority, with only 46.6 percent voting in favor of moving the draft to the next step in the IEEE process.

Companies on different side of the argument were quick to suggest that the whole process is either broken, or all part and parcel of the standardization process, and the vote was as expected.

For those who have been claiming that it is too early to start shipping draft 802.11n chipsets — as companies like Broadcom and Atheros have been doing — the first ballot is a vindication.

According to Airgo Networks CEO Greg Raleigh: "Today's outcome proves that draft 1.0 was not as stable as some in the industry would have us believe. It calls into question the validity of so-called 'draft n' products. Airgo will continue to pursue its strategy of waiting until a more mature, stable draft is established before introducing products that comply.”Raleigh also stressed the outcome is in line with recent reports that have highlighted the poor interoperability and inferior performance of such products.

One of these tests was conducted by Craig Mathias, principal of the Fairport Group (Ashland, Mass.) at EE Times' request on equipment from Netgear Inc. and Buffalo Technology.

"While we are extremely keen to see a fully ratified standard as soon as possible, we believe performance, ease of use and interoperability are absolutely critical and the standard must support these requirements. Since the Draft 1.0 fell short on several important areas we are pleased to see they will all be addressed in the next draft," said Raleigh.

Meanwhile, Atheros Communications played down the significance of the result of the first ballot, which it said was “as expected”.

The company noted that in the history of all 802.11 standards it is extremely rare for a first draft to succeed in its first letter ballot.“Task Group N (TGn) will now review all submitted comments. The time schedule for the completion/ratification of the 802.11n standard has not changed. The IEEE membership had assumed that the draft specification would not pass after the first letter ballot, and took this step into consideration when developing the process timeline. A ratified 802.11n standard is still on track for mid-2007,” Atheros said in a statement.

"The 1.0 draft specification is still the one and only working draft," said Bill McFarland, chief technology officer of Atheros. “The bar for the final 802.11n standard is set very high and we will go through several more ballots. A 'No' vote at this stage does not indicate that there will be radical changes to the standard."

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