January 11, 2006 10:00 AM PST
New Wi-Fi standard back on track
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their gear would at least be compatible with chips developed by market leaders Intel and Broadcom.
But November came and went, and no proposal was agreed upon. Behind the scenes, it became evident that device makers, even those within the EWC, still wanted the IEEE stamp of approval.
As a result, Intel and the others began working more closely with the joint proposal team, Raleigh said. This week, the two sides are expected to finalize details of the joint proposal draft that will be presented to the task group next week. Intel has confirmed that it has been working closely with the joint proposal team, as it had said it would when the EWC was formed.
"The EWC has been in discussions with the joint proposal group to harmonize all the different technical points," said Amy Martin, a spokeswoman for Intel. "There has been a lot of negotiating back and forth to find a solution that fits all parties."
Device manufacturers such as Motorola say it's important that the standards work has remained within the IEEE framework.
"The fragmentation that was happening wouldn't have been good for the market," Pellon said. "A lot of the success of Wi-Fi is because different suppliers can make products that work together, so that when you go to an airport or a hotel that has Wi-Fi, you don't have to worry if your wireless card is compatible. It just works."
One of the key areas of contention between the EWC and the joint proposal team had to do with specifications for mobile devices. Several mobile-handset manufacturers, including Nokia and Motorola, did not initially join the Intel group because they believed that its specification was too PC-centric.
The higher transmission speeds that should result from 802.11n are supposed to help equipment makers support more multimedia applications, like voice and video, over Wi-Fi. Streaming content requires faster speeds, which 802.11n promises to deliver.
But handset makers wanted to make sure that these multimedia applications also worked on their mobile devices, which have strict size and power constraints. The initial EWC specifications did not take these issues into account, Raleigh said. But after a lot of work between the two groups, the proposal that will be presented to the task group next week will support low power and specifications for small screens.
"A lot of horse trading went on," he said. "We're pleased to see the progress that has been made, and we are thrilled to see the standard back on track in an open forum."
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