WLAN group takes step toward high-speed standard

The IEEE 802.11n Task Group has winnowed out some proposals for a standard that's intended to boost wireless LAN throughput, not just the overall data rate, to at least 100M bit/sec.

WLANs based on 802.11g or 11a today have a throughput in the 18M to 22M bit/sec range.

The proposals now before the group are based on a technology called multiple input, multiple output (MIMO), which generates two or more unique radio signals and uses two or more transmit/receive antennas. Airgo Networks is the only company today actually shipping a MIMO chipset, which is just now being introduced in consumer-oriented WLAN products from companies like Belkin.

Last week, Qualcomm withdrew its separate proposal on MIMO and joined one of the two main groups remaining. And Motorola Inc.'s proposal failed to win enough votes during the ballot to stay in the running. The two complete proposals now on the table are:

  • TgnSync, which is supported by Atheros Communications, Cisco Systems, Intel, Nokia, and now Qualcomm. It got about 50 percent of the votes.
  • WWiSE, which is supported by Airgo Networks, Broadcom, STI Knowledge, and Texas Instruments. It got about 34 percent.

A proposal has to win at least 75 percent of the votes to become the basis for a standard. The technology at the core of both groups is essentially the same, which could be an incentive for the groups to hammer out a compromise in the coming months, especially as Airgo-based products demonstrate the dramatic performance gains that MIMO delivers.

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