October 12, 2005 10:14 AM PDT
Intel calls the Wi-Fi shots
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secret work has given Intel and the other companies an unfair lead in developing silicon for their proposal.
"The ultimate value of MIMO is doing everything on one network that includes PCs, TVs, cell phones and small multimedia players," said Greg Raleigh, CEO of Airgo. "If the spec only includes what was expedient over six months ago for a few silicon suppliers to implement, then the consumer will go without for years to come. This is definitely not the way the open process is intended to work."
Intel, however, said those fears are unfounded. "The purpose of the EWC is to accelerate the process," said Amy Martin, an Intel spokeswoman. "We have a cross section of companies, and we plan to build consensus within the IEEE. We felt like this was the right way go about doing that."
"The goal is to make this an open standard," Martin added. "That's why there are 27 companies involved, and more are invited to join."
Intel, Broadcom, Atheros, and Marvell have opened their coalition to all comers. But some IEEE members are still concerned by the steps Intel has taken to try to get its standard approved.
At the very least, analysts say it is bad public relations, especially for Intel, which is already involved in the stalled UWB standards process.
"It just doesn't look good," Fairpoint's Mathias said. "What Intel and the others have done may or may not be illegal, but this is definitely not the process that people at the IEEE had in mind for developing the standard."
Several analysts said this is nothing new and that the self-interest of individual companies often bleeds into the standards-making process without egregiously damaging the industry.
"This happens all the time," said Dave Passmore, an analyst at Burton Group. "When you have working prototypes and real products in the market, it gets harder and more costly to make changes so that it complies with the standard. Nobody wants to do that. So infighting and politics is just life."
For the most part, companies want to see some sort of agreement sooner rather than later.
"We just want to see companies come together," said Nokia's van Waes. "So if the (Intel-led) proposal helps focus companies on the standards process, that is a good thing. I wouldn't say that it has slowed things down or confused things. But we'll see how flexible everyone is going forward."
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