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Mobile broadband working group replaced

Following claims of bias towards Qualcomm, the IEEE has cleared out all the officers who had been working on the new 802.20 mobile broadband standard
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Written by David Meyer, Freelance reporter on

The IEEE, the body behind the proposed 802.20 standard, has announced it is to replace all the officers on that standard's working group.

The 802.20 (also known as MBWA — Mobile Broadband Wireless Access) working group was suspended in June, following complaints by Intel and Motorola that officers, including the chairman, Jerry Upton, had been favouring proposals by Qualcomm and Kyocera.

It subsequently emerged that Upton was a paid consultant for Qualcomm, although the IEEE maintains that he disclosed an affiliation "no later than July 2003".

Investigations by the IEEE's standards board showed that "the working group had become highly contentious; appeared to lack transparency; and showed evidence of possible dominance and other potential irregularities," said a report issued on Tuesday by the board.

"After completing our investigation and hearing from interested parties, the [standards board] unanimously concluded that the existing IEEE 802.20 process was not effectively serving the IEEE-SA goal of high-quality standards achieved through a fair and open process," the report continued.

As a result, all officers of the 802.20 working group have been dismissed "in an effort to provide clearly neutral leadership and to eliminate perceptions of possible bias". Requirements for IEEE 802.20 participants to declare their affiliations at all meetings have also been "clarified and tightened".

Qualcomm owns an 802.20 development company called Flarion. 802.20 is a direct competitor to 802.16e — also known as mobile WiMax, this standard is heavily backed by both Intel and Motorola.

Any or several of these and other standards could theoretically play a part in "4G", the as-yet-undefined successor to current 3G-derived mobile broadband technologies such as HSDPA.

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