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Next-Gen Wi-Fi Could Appear By Late 2006: Study

The pieces are falling into place for the next-generation 802.11n Wi-Fi standard to be ratified and chipsets could appear by the end of 2006, according to a study by ABI Research.

The new standard will provide speeds in excess of Ethernet networking speeds. Earlier this year, the two primary camps proposing versions of the 802.11n standard agreed to harmonize their proposals. Not long after that, however, a group of chipmakers and other vendors led by Intel called the Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC) issued a third proposal.

It now appears that the three proposals can be harmonized, the study notes.

"It looks as if the EWC's proposals and the existing 'joint proposal' dovetail well," Sam Lucero, an ABI senior analyst said in a statement. "We hear that a draft standard may appear as early as January." That, potentially, could lead to a ratified standard in time for 802.11n chipsets to be released by the end of 2006, he said.

There was speculation that the EWC's proposal was aimed at crippling the efforts of Airgo Networks, which was ahead of other chipmakers in terms of releasing Wi-Fi chipsets that supported Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) technology. That technology will be part of the 802.11n standard and uses multiple antennas to increase speed and range.

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