Members of the Institute
of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) this week adjourned
their meeting without reaching a consensus on specifications to be used
on chipsets for all next-generation 802.11g products—which are capable
of transmitting data at 20 Mbps.
Industry observers have been keenly watching the outcome of the Orlando,
Fla., meeting for specifications that would essentially double the current
data transmission rates, enabling true multimedia wire-free streaming
over the unlicensed 2.4GHz spectrum space.
But the meeting of about 175 members turned into a two-way contest between
Intersil, which submitted one proposal
known as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) modulation,
and Texas Instruments (TI), which has
developed its own Packet Binary Convolution Coding (PBCC) technology.
TI’s proposal was taken out of the running in a preliminary voting round
on Wednesday after not garnering majority support by the IEEE’s 802.11g
“There’s not going to be an 11g standard coming out of Orlando,” TI’s
Wireless Networking Business General Manager Mike Hogan told InternetNews.com
in a telephone interview. “In the end, no vote was taken which we thought
was unfortunate because we wanted to get some work done…it’s clear we’re
not out of the woods in picking an 11g standard.”
In order for Intersil’s OFDM specification—which is now the sole
candidate to be considered by the IEEE—to proceed, over 75 percent
of the Task Force needed to ratify the proposal. After which, it would
have then gone to the IEEE’s larger 802.11 Working Group for procedural
voting before officially becoming an IEEE recommendation. But complicating
matters on Thursday was a two-hour procedural debate among members of
the .11g Task Force.
According to officials from Irvine, Calif.-based Intersil, the bipartisan
rancor was sparked after .11g Task Force Chairman Matthew B. Shoemake,
Ph.D., ruled that Intersil’s OFDM would no longer be considered because
the proposal couldn’t muster the support of 75 percent of the group—the
mandatory threshold. (Shoemake is a TI official of Alantro Communications,
which the Dallas-based multinational acquired last summer for $300 million
to support its PBCC development efforts.)
If OFDM was eliminated for consideration by the IEEE, the Task Force
would have been forced to essentially go back to the drawing board, requesting
new proposals be resubmitted. But citing statutes from the IEEE Proposal
Selection Process, Jim Zyren, Director of Marketing at Intersil’s PRISM
Wireless Products business, appealed the chairman’s ruling.
Zyren’s appeal was subsequently upheld; however, after the two-hour debate,
no time was left for voting.
“I think the consensus of the group is they’d like to move forward,”
Zyren told InternetNews.com in an interview.
The IEEE certainly has other items on its agenda, working on other specifications
such as 802.11e—for voice transmission and security and .11a—which
promises data rates of 54 Mbps. Because of the current limitations of
802.11b technology, promising only theoretical transmission speeds of
11 Mbps, company officials from California to Canada are anxiously anticipating
the arrival of high-speed capabilities.
“What .11g offers is how to get to higher data rates without large incremental
costs,” explained Navin Sabharwal, vice president of residential and networking
technologies at Allied Business Intelligence (ABI), an Oyster Bay, NY-based
Intersil’s OFDM proposal now will go before the IEEE’s .11g Task Force
for ratification at its Portland, Ore., meeting in July. Members will
vote round-robin style until the 75-percent threshold can be met. If,
for example, only 60 percent ratify, the remaining 40 percent would be
asked to modify the proposal, etc., until 75 percent is obtained.
“I’m very optimistic that we’re going to cross the 75-percent threshold
at the July meeting,” Zyren said.
This round-robin procedure of voting-and-modifying was the case in 1999
during the adoption of 802.11b. Then, Intersil ultimately convinced supporters
of a proposal from Lucent Technologies to back a hybrid specification
for transmitting data at 11Mbps. But Zryen explained the present case
involving Intersil and TI is dramatically different.
“With 802.11b, we had 2 proposals that had common ground. OFDM is a multiple-carrier
proposal. PBCC is a single-carrier proposal. It’s is very difficult to
find common ground because the two proposals are so different. No mutually
acceptable compromise position has been identified.”
To be sure, TI officials emphasized that IEEE’s inaction won’t hamper
its development in WLANs.
“If anyone was to think that the vote on Wednesday would dramatically
impact our plan for wireless LAN, that’s just not true,” TI’s Hogan said.