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Vendors rally for fast Wi-Fi

Coalition forms to produce wireless spec and push 802.11n standard

More than two dozen leading manufacturers of wireless LAN equipment have formed an industry coalition aimed at breaking a deadlock in efforts to establish a new, faster Wi-Fi standard.

The EWC (Enhanced Wireless Consortium), announced on Monday, hopes to speed ratification of an IEEE 802.11n standard by introducing its own specification with widespread industry support. The coalition consists of 27 companies, including Atheros Communications, Broadcom, Cisco Systems and Intel.

"These members represent a good cross-section of the two groups that were unable to agree to an 802.11n standard as part of the IEEE standardization process," said Gwen Carlson, a spokesperson at Conexant Systems, which is an EWC member.

For the past several months, the two camps had argued bitterly over a standard, failing to achieve the majority support required by IEEE.

In the one camp was the WWiSE (World-Side Spectrum Efficiency) group, and in the other was TGnSync.
The members will continue to work within the IEEE Task Group "N" in an effort to agree on an 802.11n standard, according to Carlson.

The EWC specification will benefit users by, among other things, ensuring interoperability of next-generation wireless producers across a range of brands and platforms, such as PCs, handheld devices and networking systems, Carlson said.

The planned 802.11n standard will significantly boost throughput on Wi-Fi systems. The EWC specification aims to support speeds of up to 600Mbps (megabits per second). That compares to today's 802.11a and 802.11g throughput of 20mbps to 24mbps.

The EWC specification includes a number of other technical elements, including mixed-mode interoperability with 802.11a, b and g networks; use of 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz unlicensed bands (thus matching the frequency plan of existing 802.11 devices); 20MHz and/or 40MHz channel support and spatial multiplexing modes for simultaneous transmission using one to four antennas.

The specification will also support 4x4 Mimo (multiple-input/multiple-output) technology, according to Carlson.

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