Spectrum hog leads the race for 802.11n ratification

Spectrum hog leads the race for 802.11n ratification

Summary: The 802.11n task grouplast weeknarrowed the number of candidates for the new wireless Ethernet standard 802.

TOPICS: Tech Industry

The 802.11n task grouplast weeknarrowed the number of candidates for the new wireless Ethernet standard 802.11n to just two. The significance of this is that the clear leader of the two remaining candidates, TgnSync, is unfortunately a spectrum hog. The trailing candidate WWiSE ironically stands for "World-Wide Spectrum Efficiency."

There are already two products on the shelf (Belkin and Linksys) using an Airgo MIMO chipsetthat falls into the WWiSE camp. Belkin released the first Airgo-based product and had some very impressiveresults from Tim Higgins. Belkin's implementation of Airgo's MIMO technology was able to sustain a throughput of over 40 megabits per second.

TgnSync, on the other hand, has no products on the shelf and uses two of three available 2.4 GHz channels for the purpose of attaining very high data transmission throughput. It's bad enough that there is already a scarcity of channels in the 2.4 GHz space; TgnSync (if it wins ratification)would make things twice as bad. Although higher throughput is always welcome, 40 megabits per second is even sufficient for the transmission of HDTV, which weighs in at 28 megabits per second, and DVD, whichneeds no more than 8 megabits per second. What's needed is spectrum harmony, not spectrum hogs.

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • Question

    George, can you tell us something about the process by which the decision between these two options might be made?

    Is it collegial? Political? Does your piece have a part to play in it?
    • It's a lot of politics

      The standards process is extremely political. There are a lot of market forces involved. If you look at the list of TgnSync members, they have the biggest players on board.

      When it comes to marketing, there is one simple rule. He who has the biggest numbers wins.

      Since TgnSync products (when they arrive) use twice the spectrum space, they will most likely post better performance numbers. When you put that on a box sitting on a retail shelf, the box with the bigger numbers always wins. The general population doesn't know the details; they're just instinctively driven towards the product with the bigger numbers. The problem is, if all your neighbors are wasting spectrum, you won't see good performance anyways.
    • I could only wish :)

      I wish I had that kind of authority :). If I had my way, I would personally ban any product that uses more than a single channel.
  • Patents and the Spectrum Hog

    I believe the WWise propose had clear 'open' IPR. Tgnsync appears to be a big bucket of proprietary (aka patent pending) techniques. The corporate cabals supporting this proposal simply want to make money on their IP and do not really care about the 'best' technology or the best IP policy.
  • To: Nymble

    If it is as you say, then someone will find an opportunity in offering "non-standard" or "non-n" gear.

    Either that, or n will fall of its own weight.

    After all, who really needs n right now? The g and a+b proposals both offer ample bandwidth for most applications.

    But what do you think?
    • Marketing 101: Bigger numbers = better

      If you put a standardized 802.11n product next to a nonstandard product, the standardized product will and should win. As much as I wouldn't like it if the spectrum hog wins ratification, I'm not willing to go scorched earth. Having non-compatible products on the shelves would be an even greater evil in my opinion.

      Additionally, the product that posts the biggest performance numbers always wins. Consumers don't know any better, they just look for the bigger number (even if the numbers are inflated). Unfortunately, the average consumer just doesn't care about fuel economy or spectrum efficiency even if it is important to them.

      For the time being, 802.11a or 802.11g don?t provide enough bandwidth for HDTV but are sufficient for multiple DVD streams. 802.11g might have a harder time guaranteeing throughput because of the over used spectrum issue, but 802.11a has a pretty good chance of supporting DVD because there are so many more channels and so few people use 802.11a. The fact is, consumers like me who really want to be able to wirelessly distribute DVD content to the living room are best served by 802.11a right now. 802.11n provides the bandwidth necessary for HDTV content, but the amount of interference in some situations may render it crippled. Where I live, I can already see 7 of my neighbor?s 802.11g networks from my home taking up mostly channel 6 and 11. The last thing I need is for all of them to start using up all 3 channels.