802.11n consensus sets stage for IEEE consideration next week
A joint proposal team developing proposals for the next-generation Wi-Fi standard—802.11n—yesterday voted unanimously to adopt the specification presented by the Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC), which is expected to be submitted to the IEEE next week.
This consensus is expected to mark the end of a standards struggle that saw two proposal groups—TGnSync and WWise—effectively divide support for the standard. When large chipmakers formed the EWC in the fall, many observers feared the splintered efforts would prevent the IEEE from adopting an 802.11n standard, as has been the case in the ultrawideband arena. Instead, the EWC became a point of consensus in a relatively short period of time.
Theoretically, the joint proposal team could encounter some snags while formulating the details of the 802.11n proposal, but the unanimous support expressed yesterday means its unlikely to cause delays, said Bill McFarland, chief technical officer for Atheros Communications.
“In general, the extremely high rate of support shown for the EWC … bodes very well that any remaining differences or issues can be resolved quickly and that we can see passage at the IEEE starting next week,” McFarland.
The IEEE could have an initial draft of 802.11n next week, McFarland said. Official ratification of the standard likely is about a year, but products based on the draft version of the standard likely will begin to appear on the market this summer, he said.
The 802.11n standard is expected to generate maximum data throughputs of 600 MB/s, making the wireless transmission of even high-definition video content between devices possible, ABI Research senior analyst Sam Lucero said. In addition, the range of 802.11n is expected to be much greater than current Wi-Fi standards—up to 1500 feet—and the new standard will be designed to operate at unlicensed frequencies in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, Lucero said.
“In the same way that we saw a very strong transition from 11b to 11g, I think we’ll see a fairly similar transition from 11g to 11n,” McFarland said.
One problem associated with current Wi-Fi standards is that all devices on a network transmit at the slowest data rate allowed by a device on the network. McFarland said the new standard would be designed to minimize, if not prevent, this scenario from happening in an 802.11n network.