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802.11n plot thickens as January IEEE decision nears

Last summer the IEEE almost reached an agreement on the specifications of 802.11n, but then things got discombobulated as the haggling between the two rival coalitions continued and a third proposal was offered. There was an IEEE meeting in Vancouver last week, but nothing much happened there to advance the cause of an agreed-upon standard. There is going to be a vote on the standard in January, though, and smart money says that the IEEE will go with a joint proposal that combines the various vendor-backed specifications.

"In January you'll have a confirmation vote," said Airgo's Rolf De Vegt, with a first draft likely out by March. Farpoint's Craig Mathias agrees: "Nothing will happen with 802.11n until the January meeting--it's my expectation that the joint proposal will move forward at that point... It remains to be seen if those involved in EWC will produce it regardless."

Yes, what EWC plans to do is the $64,000 question. EWC, or the Enhanced Wireless Consortium--also known as the Gang of Four--is the latest entrant in the standard rivalry, offering the third proposal back in August. It is led by Atheros, Broadcom, Cisco and Intel, and its goal is to keep early MIMO leader Airgo from gaining too much of the 802.11n market share. Rumor has it that regardless of the IEEE January decision, EWC members believe they have enough technical and market power among them to come out with their own 802.11n specification and then duke it out in the marketplace with the alternative, IEEE-backed version.

For more on the state of 802.11n:
- read Dan Jones' Unstrung report
- and see the EWC Web site

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