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TDK exec: 802.11g -- The standard we don't need

In his white paper, ''The Evolution of the Wireless LAN,'' TDK Systems Europe Managing Director Nick Hunn writes that, for WLAN to take off, it must be seen as simple technology by the end users. As he sees it, the IEEE standards body seems to have forgotten that requirement, and it is ''threatening to wreck user confidence with the 'interim' standard of 802.11g.''

London-based TDK Systems is a maker of mobile connectivity technology.

According to Hunn, ''802.11g was a good idea at the time, when the road to .11a silicon looked long and arduous. However, infighting between its proponents has delayed .11g to the point that it is now irrelevant and deserves a mercy killing.''

And, he continued, ''There is a more major concern for 802.11g. By the time it arrives there will be over 100 million Bluetooth devices around, all using the same chunk of spectrum as 802.11g. They'll provide a level of interference that ensures that 802.11g will fail to offer its potential increase in speed -- it will just keep on stepping down to 802.11b data rates. There will also be around 20 million 802.11b devices in service and the backward compatibility modes of 802.11g ensure that if they're detected 802.11g once again slows back to 802.11b rates. In other words the only place where 802.11g products will attain their promised higher speeds will be inside a screened box.''

The paper concludes that ''there's not a lot of point in going any further with 802.11g. Unfortunately there are a number of supporters who still believe it's the best thing since sliced bread. From a selfish marketing point it may be -- I'm sure there are a few companies who will increase their market share if it ships, but for the industry as a whole it could be disastrous. At a point where the end-user should be feeling comfortable about wireless LAN it throws in yet another variant to confuse and delay. In common with 802.11a, 802.11g is not legal in Europe (in fact it's still debatable whether it's approvable within the U.S.), so manufacturers will need to lobby for radio regulations to be relaxed. That raises a worrying scenario -- both .11a and .11g will be petitioning for a change in the rules, both for the same user benefit -- higher rate wireless networking. There's a good chance that the regulators will decide that there's no sense in relaxing two different bands and ask which one is the more important. If that happens we could see two wireless LAN industry groups fighting each other for the moral high ground. The decisions will get delayed, the momentum behind wireless LAN rollouts will falter and the only eventual winner might turn out to be HiperLAN/2.''

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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