802.11n: Expect Delays Ahead

Thousands of comments on the 1.0 draft mean a closer-to-finished 2.0 probably won't be ready for a vote until January.
Despite the hopes of the industry barreling ahead with the release of Draft-N product based on the 1.0 draft of 802.11n, that high-speed Wi-Fi standard is likely not to get another vote until January 2007, not next month as many hoped. That means there won't be a 2.0 draft for at least six months.

Network World reports that the IEEE Task Group E in the 802.11 Working Group has 12,000 comments to go through. These were in response to the release of the 1.0 draft. Half have been addressed — many are simple editorial changes to the written spec. Many are duplicates. The process is described as "tedious and time-consuming."

So far, a sticking point remains in how 802.11n should combine 20MHz channels into a single 40MHz channel, doubling throughput of the Wi-Fi signal.

Draft-N products have taken a constant knock for their inability to work well together, enough so that chip making rivals Broadcom and Atheros actually got together long enough to pledge that products using their Draft-N chips will interoperate.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg said after testing a Draft-N product from Belkin that, while they will perform better than existing 802.11g equipment (especially with equipment all from the same vendors), so did last year's MIMO-equipped routers. Those products used chips from Airgo Networks, which had a lock on the market until this year.

Airgo usually is the loudest when trumpeting the problems Draft-N brings to the table, but other chip makers have and continue to say that the issues will be easily addressed. The inner workings and procedures of the IEEE and its voting, however, mean the gears grind slowly and that will continue for Task Group N.

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