Broadcom to Jump the Gun on 802.11n

WLAN products based on emerging 802.11n are in the pipeline.

An emerging IEEE standard that promises Fast Ethernet speeds for wireless LANs wont likely be ratified before late 2005, but as with previous WLAN protocols, Broadcom Corp. is planning to jump the gun by releasing "prestandard" products.

Still in the project authorization phase, 802.11n is designed to increase WLAN speeds to at least 100M bps for data and actual throughput rates.

Unlike current ratified Wi-Fi standards—802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g—802.11n focuses on throughput at the MAC (media access control) interface, rather than as a signaling bit rate in the physical layer. This means the throughput rates will more likely match the highest-possible data rates, said IEEE officials, in Piscataway, N.J.

The standard is expected to operate in the 5GHz range along with 802.11a. An 802.11n standard is well over a year away, the officials said.

"My gut feeling is youre going to be in 2005 or 2006 before ratification," said Stuart Kerry, chairman of the IEEEs 802.11 working group, which oversees most WLAN standards.

But Broadcom isnt waiting around. The Irvine, Calif., company plans to produce sample wireless chip sets based on drafts of 802.11n in the second half of next year, officials said. They did not say when the chip sets would be made available to manufacturers for use in 802.11n wireless access points.

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