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    MIMO Clears Another Hurdle
    By Brad Smith
    March 10, 2006

    The next, fast generation of Wi-Fi using MIMO (multiple-input, multiple output) technology reached a major standardization milestone today. The IEEE working group gave its tentative approval to a draft 1.0 standard for the much-discussed 802.11n specification.

    Bill McFarland, chief technology officer with Atheros Communications, says the working group members will take 40 days to make comments and vote on the proposed standard. If it is approved by at least 75 percent of the members, the proposal will be submitted to the IEEE in July.

    802.11n is intended to allow data rates higher than 100 Mbps using both MIMO and orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM). The draft specification approved today is basically one that was drawn by a group of companies under the banner of the Enhanced Wireless Consortium. The EWC was created by Atheros, Broadcom, Intel and Marvell last October after those companies became frustrated with the slowness of getting a draft standard.

    The vote in the 802.11n plenary meeting in Denver today indicates there is strong backing for the new standard. There were 82 votes in favoring of releasing the draft standard and just 12 against it.

    Several companies have already been making products using MIMO. First out was chip maker Airgo Networks, whose chips are being used in equipment from such manufacturers as Linksys, Netgear, Buffalo and Belkin. Other chip makers also have products, expecting they can update any products with software updates if necessary to meet the final standard.

    The Wi-Fi Alliance ultimately will do interoperability testing on the 802.11n products but hasn't announced any plans yet.

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