A truce is at hand in the wrangling over the next-generation wireless LAN specification, IEEE 802.11n, with backers of the two competing groups agreeing to submit a joint proposal at the next meeting in two weeks' time.

Jim Zyren, executive director of Wireless and Residential Gateway Access Products for Conexant Systems, confirmed that the two groups have begun a joint effort, according to a report in technical journal EE Times.

The 802.11n task group is piecing together the successor to current Wi-Fi specifications using MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out) technology, but has been locked in a stalemate in recent months. At a March 2005 meeting the TGn Sync group won a simple majority of the votes and locked rival WWiSE out of consideration.

At the following meeting, however, TGn Sync failed to take even 50 percent of the vote, making it clear that a compromise would be in the offing. To be accepted as the draft standard a proposal must reach a super-majority, or 75 percent of the vote.

"The IEEE 802.11n ballot was a good result," said Dave Borison, director of product marketing at Airgo Networks, at the time. "It's a wake-up call for both camps. We want to move forward and get a standard in place. Within the next quarter, or two at the most, we will have a compromise."

Airgo backs WWiSE and, significantly, makes the True MIMO chipset currently gaining wide industry support (read a review). Belkin, Linksys and Netgear are all selling True MIMO-based Wi-Fi products, and Samsung is building the gear into its laptops. Airgo claims its chips have 3 percent of the consumer Wi-Fi market.

The two proposals can be brought together quite easily, said Borison, although some differences may have to be accommodated as options within the standard. TGn Sync uses 40MHz channels, instead of the 20MHz channels which are standard worldwide, and the two standards use different numbers of antennas. TGn also uses the 5GHz spectrum instead of the 2.4GHz band where WWiSE (and Airgo) operate.

Some engineers call TGn Sync's approach wasteful of spectrum, while the WWiSE group puts a premium on efficiency - in fact the acronym stands for "World Wide Spectrum Efficiency". Backing for TGn Sync is led by Agere, Intel and Atheros, with WWiSE supported by Conexant, Broadcom, Airgo and Texas Instruments.

The next 802.11n meeting runs from 17 to 22 July.