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802.11n: Here We Go Again

Two competing industry associations, TGn Sync and WWiSE, formed a Joint Proposal (JP) group to combine their proposals for a wireless high-speed IEEE 802.11n network standard, but another group, the Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC), popped up to unveil a whole new proposal said to deliver audio, video and data at speeds up to 600Mbps.

EWC consists of 27 companies, including four chipmakers that combined hold the lion’s share of the Wi-Fi chip market. They are Atheros, Broadcom, Intel and Marvell.

EWC’s proposal means that “companies can start building EWC-compliant Wi-Fi chipsets and products immediately, with EWC-compliant products probably reaching the market by the fourth quarter of 2006,” said ABI Research’s analyst Philip Solis. They’ll be interoperable with existing Wi-Fi products but will offer faster throughput and extended range when used with other EWC products, which like the other camps use MIMO [Multiple In, Multiple Out] technology, he said.

“Whether or not the EWC specification will form the basis of an eventual 802.11n protocol [ratified by IEEE] remains to be seen, but if so, that would mean availability of pre-802.11n systems sooner than might have been expected,” he noted. “The stalemate [for 802.11n ratification by the IEEE] may be transformed into a stalemate between the Joint Proposal and EWC groups,” he added.

EWC includes members from the other two camps and includes chipmaker Conexant; equipment vendors such as Cisco, Linksys, D-Link, Buffalo and Netgear; and computer makers Apple, Sony and Toshiba.

WWiSE stands for Worldwide Spectrum Efficiency, and TGn Sync stands for Task Group N Sync.