More than two dozen leading wireless LAN companies have formed an industry coalition to create and submit a spec for the IEEE's next generation wireless LAN standard - 802.11n. The specification is already creating controversy (read our analysis).
The Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC), announced today, says it aims to break a deadlock and speed up ratification of the 802.11n standard, which may go as fast as 600 Mbit/s. The 27 members include big Wi-Fi players such as Atheros, Broadcom, Cisco and Intel, but omit the one significant MIMO vendor, Airgo.
"These members represent a good cross-section of the two groups that were unable to agree to an 80.11n standard as part of the IEEE standardisation process," said Gwen Carlson, a spokeswoman at Conexant Systems, which is an EWC member.
For the past several months, two camps had argued bitterly over a standard, and both failed to achieve the majority support required by IEEE. In the one camp was the World-Side Spectrum Efficiency (WWiSE) group - which included Conexant and the player absent from EWC - Airgo. In the other corner was TGnSync, backed by Intel and Atheros, among others.
WWISE and TGnSync had agreed in August to develop a compromise solution within the IEEE, but the group now calling itself EWC emerged last month as an Intel-led coalition outside the IEEE, including members of both factions.
EWC members will continue to work within the IEEE Task Group "N" in an effort to agree on an 802.11n standard, according to Carlson. However, WWISe and TGnSync had not returned e-mails at the time of writing on the current status, or that of their joint proposal.
Carlson says the EWC specification will benefit users by, among other things, ensuring interoperability of next-generation wireless producers across a range of brands and platforms, such as PCs, handheld devices and networking systems.
The planned 802.11n standard will significantly boost throughput on Wi-Fi systems. The EWC specification aims to support speeds of up to 600Mbit/s. That compares to today's 802.11a and 802.11g throughput of 20Mbit/s to 24Mbit/s.
The EWC specification includes a number of other technical elements, including mixed-mode interoperability with 802.11a, b and g networks, use of 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz unlicensed bands (thus matching the frequency plan of existing 802.11 devices), 20MHz and/or 40MHz channel support and spatial multiplexing modes for simultaneous transmission using one to four antennas.
The specification will also support 4 x 4 MIMO (multiple-input/multiple-output) technology, according to Carlson.