Next Generation Wi-Fi Does Its Best Impersonation Of UWB's Standards Battle
By Mike Masnick, Fri May 20 21:45:00 GMT 2005

It seems like every new wireless technology has to go through a nearly identical, and equally painful, standards battle. Wi-Fi is just now fulfilling that expectation which many hoped it would avoid.

Almost a year ago, many people looked at the players lining up in the two main camps offering up a next generation Wi-Fi standard (802.11n) and realized that the groups looked mighty similar to those battling over the UWB standard. The optimistic view was that the participants would recognize what a disaster that process has been and would work out a compromise instead. Apparently, that was wishful thinking.

Doing everything it possibly can to mimic the UWB standards battle, the IEEE 802.11n working group has failed to agree on a single standard. The leading choice, backed by Intel, couldn't even muster up 50% of the vote, which opened up the possibility that the main competing standard could come back into this mess.

Once again, it's a situation where certain providers are recognizing the power of the winner take all market, realizing that getting their choices approved will be quite lucrative. Of course, sitting around for years arguing over the standard only insures that no one gets to collect on that opportunity. It's the classic dilemma facing way too many standards making bodies these days.

The good news, however, is that the two leading choices in this case really are not that different -- and a compromise solution is not out of the question. Hopefully enough people recognize just how much is being left on the table while these little squabbles work themselves out to get a real standard agreed upon, so that everyone can move forward.