Fast Wi-Fi standard set to splinter

Just when users thought the fast Wi-Fi standard was well under way, it looks like the big chip makers are about to undermine an agreement in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.

Intel Corp., Broadcom Corp., Atheros Communications Inc. and Marvell Semiconductor Inc. have formed an alliance to work on a media access control (MAC) for fast Wi-Fi, which will be presented to the IEEE in November, at the same time as the official IEEE 802.11n fast Wi-Fi task group is due to report, according to a story in EE Times.

Intel and the rest haven/t explained the move in any detail, but they're already being accused of trying to take over the IEEE process, even to the extent of allegedly violating antitrust laws -- by excluding other players such as Airgo Networks Inc., which makes the only widely adopted chips in the market that use multiple input, multiple output technology intended to double Wi-Fi speeds.

Airgo's party in the IEEE standards process, WWISE, threw in its lot with Intel's TGnSynch proposal, in a truce in July.

Working groups that meet outside the IEEE's process are a legitimate approach to sorting out technical details before an IEEE deadline -- and have been widely used in efforts to create standards before. However, this group is raising questions, because it appears to ignore Airgo despite its lead in the market.

One industry insider predicted that the current storm was based on Airgo "mouthing off," and predicted it would blow over because the group's actual proposals would eventually have to come before the IEEE and face scrutiny.

"The 802.11 brand has a lot of cachet," said IEEE 802 chairman Bob Heile. "A non-IEEE solution would have a big uphill battle."

This story, "Fast Wi-Fi standard set to splinter" was originally published by Techworld.com.

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