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Next-gen Wi-Fi rivals may join forces next month

Key 802.11n proposals now '85% aligned'

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The Intel-backed Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC) appears to have reached a closer understanding with the IEEE Task Group charged with developing the specification for the next-generation Wi-Fi standard, 802.11n.

According to the EWC, at meetings held in Vancouver last month, the Task Group has said it will adopt elements of the EWC's proposed specification. An EWC spokeswoman yesterday told The Register that the two parallel proposed 802.11n specifications were now "85 per cent aligned".

The two bodies' remaining differences are expected to be brought together before the end of the year, she claimed.

The EWC was formed in October to "accelerate" the ratification of 802.11n. Until August, the 802.11n development process was essentially a two-horse race, but the two rival camps, TGn Sync and WWiSE, agreed to work on aligning their respective proposals, as the so-called Joint Proposal, under the IEEE Task Group's oversight.

Clearly, the process didn't go as planned, and it's interesting that EWC numbers quite a few former TGn Sync members among its founders: Intel, Atheros, Cisco, Mitsubishi, Sony, Sanyo and Toshiba, for example. Some WWiSE members are in EWC, too, such as Broadcom. Today, EWC has 49 member companies.

The EWC also said this week it had expanded its specification to incorporate some consumer electronics- and handset-friendly enhancements to improve the technology's range, connectivity, robustness and power-saving techniques. 802.11n is predicated on MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) techniques to boost bandwidth by an order of magnitude above today's standard Wi-Fi networks can provide. The technique makes use of 'multi-path' interference that might once have been minimised to drive up the network's range.

The EWC said the Joint Proposal team will next month review its updated specification and vote on its incorporation into the Joint Proposal. ®

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