Group proposes faster Wi-Fi specification

Networking consortium submits proposal for faster Wi-Fi, as battle lines are drawn between rival groups.

Richard Shim Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Richard Shim
writes about gadgets big and small.
Richard Shim
2 min read
A consortium of networking companies has readied its proposal for the next wireless networking standard, as battle lines are drawn between rival groups.

The group, calling itself WWiSE (short for World Wide Spectrum Efficiency), on Thursday announced that it is submitting suggestions for the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers 802.11n task group to consider in developing the next-generation Wi-Fi standard.

The 802.11n standard will allow for actual throughput rates of up to 100 megabits per second. In comparison, 802.11g, the current fastest Wi-Fi standard, has optimal rates of 54mbps but average rates of about half that.

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The first draft of the 802.11n spec is slated for the middle of next year, with a completed standard planned for late 2006 to early 2007.

The WWiSE announcement comes as a Friday midnight deadline for submissions to the task group draws near. The IEEE 802.11n group has scheduled a mid-September meeting in Berlin to discuss the proposals.

Another group of companies, informally calling itself TGnSync, has similar requests for the IEEE's 802.11n task group in the works and plans to submit its suggestions by the Friday deadline. TGnSync members include Atheros, Agere, Royal Philips Electronics and Intel.

The two groups differ on the licensing of intellectual property. While both groups claim that they will comply with reasonable and nondiscriminatory (RAND) licensing terms, WWiSE said that if its proposal is accepted, its members have agreed to what it is calling RAND under zero royalty (RAND-Z).

WWiSE companies have agreed to a reciprocal royalty-free individual license option, which means that members won't charge developers for an 802.11n license. That will translate to lower costs to developers, manufacturers and consumers, according to the group.

The WWiSE submission also proposes the use of the 20MHz radio band to ensure worldwide spectrum compliance, making it easier and faster for 802.11n-based products to be released globally. In addition, the proposal calls for backward compatibility with current Wi-Fi standards.

WWiSE companies will use MIMO-OFDM (multiple input, multiple output-orthogonal frequency division multiplexing) technology to achieve high-speed data throughput. Airgo Networks has been developing and shipping chips based on MIMO technology and recently added Belkin as a partner to ship products using the chips, starting in October.

Airgo is a member of the WWiSE group. Others include Bermai, Broadcom, Conexant Systems, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments.