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Intel Action Could Delay Next-Gen Wi-Fi: Analysts

Intel is leading a small group of firms that want to write a "whole new proposal," according to one industry watcher, which means the standard currently on the table could be delayed.
A market analyst claimed Wednesday that the next generation Wi-Fi standard, 802.11n, could take longer to be developed than expected because of a movement led by Intel.

In fact, ratification of the standard could be delayed until the middle of 2007, according to ABI Research analyst Philip Solis.

Previously, two different industry were unable to gather the support within the IEEE to have their standard ratified. The two groups have been talking about harmonizing their proposals, but a group led by Intel recently weighed in with a third proposal. Other members of that group include chipset vendors Broadcom, Atheros and Marvell.

Notably missing from that group was Airgo Networks, which has been championing its own flavor of Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) technology and has just released a new MIMO chipset that it claims surpasses Ethernet speeds. MIMO will be part of the 802.11n standard, but the specific nature of MIMO in the standard has yet to be decided.

"Four major companies … holding the lion's share of the Wi-Fi chipset market have formed a third camp with the aim of writing a whole new proposal," Solis noted. That will likely lead to a delay in ratification of the new standard.

Another ABI analyst, Sam Lucero, said that it is possible Intel's gambit is aimed at Airgo networks.

"If these companies, which have been slower bringing spatial multiplexing to market, can change the standard proposal drastically, Airgo would be forced to a fundamental redesign," Lucero said.

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