A revised 802.11n specification this month could garner the 75 percent approval votes required from the IEEE's 802.11 Task Group N to render it a draft standard for faster wireless networking..

The Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC) plans to offer up the spec at the meeting of the task group during the week of January 16. The EWC announced its formation in October 2005. It was chartered with breaking a technology impasse surrounding competing proposals for the emerging 802.11n high-speed (100Mbps+) Wi-Fi networking standard in order to accelerate adoption of a standard and ensure interoperability among products.

EWC was spun out of Task Group N's Joint Proposal Team, which had been set up to find a compromise between competing proposals from a group of vendors called World-Wide Spectrum Efficiency (WWiSE), comprising vendors such as Airgo, AT&T, Broadcom, Buffalo, HP, Motorola, Nokia, and others; and TGn Sync, comprising vendors such as Atheros, Cisco, Intel, Marvell, Nortel, Qualcomm, Sony,
Symbol Technologies, and others; as well as a third initial proposal from Mitsubishi and Motorola.

802.11n uses multiple input/multiple output (MIMO) and Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) technologies to increase throughput.

The EWC proposal is backed by 49 companies representing a significant cross-section of the initial groups including Atheros, Broadcom, Cisco, Intel and Symbol. A spokesman for the EWC says that the group has made some additions to its proposed
802.11n specification to better meet the needs of handset and consumer electronics manufacturers:

  • Space Time Block Coding - A feature that extends range to improve handset-to-base station connectivity and robustness.
  • Power Save Multi Poll (PSMP) - An advanced power save capability that allows handheld devices to conserve power by scheduling activity on the wireless medium, rather than sending/receiving at random intervals to accommodate other clients.
  • Transmit Beam-forming - A technique that helps achieve the full diversity afforded by multi-antenna devices.
  • Other technologies to extend Wi-Fi range.

The chief technical officer from chipmaker Atheros, Bill McFarland, says he believes the 802.11n specification will get voted on during this month's meeting and that it should receive the 75 percent approval it needs from Task Group N in order to make it the official 802.11n draft standard.