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A group of Wi-Fi manufacturers have formed a coalition in a bid to boost wireless speeds. The Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC), which includes 27 Wi-Fi industry leaders such as Apple, Cisco Systems and Intel, is attempting to speed up the development of the proposed IEEE 802.11n standard. The new wireless standard is expected to support speeds of up to 600 Mbps. This will provide support for applications that need higher data rates than currently available, such as HDTV streams, and allow information to be sent quickly. The new specification will also include interoperability with the current a, b and g standards.

The EWC's proposal also includes the use of spatial multiplexing modes for simultaneous transmission using between one and four antennas and enhanced range for a wider coverage area. It is also considering using advanced technologies, such as Space Time Block Coding (STBC) and beamforming.

"Intel is committed to advancing the adoption of standards, and participation in the Enhanced Wireless Consortium is one way we hope to accelerate the adoption of a final IEEE 802.11n standard," said Jim Johnson, vice president and general manager of Intel's Wireless Networking Group. "By joining with numerous other industry players, we hope to speed ratification of the standard as well as jointly develop a common guideline to deliver interoperable solutions in the interim."

The EWC also plans to promote a technology specification for the next generation of wireless local area networking products to ensure interoperability across a variety of brands and platforms.

However, reports indicate that not everyone is happy with the new proposals. The development of the 802.11n technology has already been hit by delays and disagreements. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has been trying to move the process forward for some time; however technology companies have sided with competing technologies making the process difficult. The new EWC group adds another faction to the process. However, the coalition's members will continue to work within the IEEE Task Group "N" to work towards a ratified 802.11n standard; if the IEEE ratifies the group's proposed standard, its members will make their intellectual property necessary to the specification available to other parties.

Other companies have decided to sit out the new consortium, preferring to wait for an open standard rather than adopting a proprietary standard. Wi-Fi use is growing around the world, with industry experts expecting the number of hotspots around the world to grow to more than 100,000 by the end of 2005. According to a September report from Informa Telecoms and Media, Western Europe now has 42 per cent of the world's Wi-Fi hotspots, compared with 26 per cent in the US.

Copyright © 2005, ENN

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