A strong group of leading wireless LAN manufacturers have formed a coalition to break a deadlock in attempts to establish a new and faster WiFi standard.

The Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC) hopes to accelerate the ratification of the IEEE 802.11n standard by introducing its own specification with widespread industry support. The industry coalition consists of 27 companies, including Atheros, Broadcom, Cisco and Intel.

"These members represent a good cross-section of the two groups that were unable to agree to an 802.11n standard as part of the IEEE standardisation process," said Gwen Carlson, a spokeswoman at Conexant Systems, which is an EWC member.

Storm in a teacup

For the past several months, the two camps had argued bitterly over a standard, failing to achieve the majority support required by IEEE.

In the one camp was the World-Side Spectrum Efficiency (WWiSE) group, and in the other was TGnSync.

The members will continue to work within the IEEE Task Group "N" in an effort to agree on an 802.11n standard, according to Carlson.

The EWC specification will benefit users by, among other things, ensuring interoperability of next-generation wireless producers across a range of brands and platforms, such as PCs, handheld devices and networking systems, Carlson said.

Major speed increase

The planned 802.11n standard will significantly boost throughput on WiFi systems. The EWC specification aims to support speeds of up to 600Mbps (bits per second).

The EWC specification includes a number of other technical elements, including mixed-mode interoperability with 802.11a, b and g networks, use of 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz unlicensed bands (thus matching the frequency plan of existing 802.11 devices), 20MHz and/or 40MHz channel support and spatial multiplexing modes for simultaneous transmission using one to four antennas.

The specification will also support 4 x 4 MIMO (multiple-input/multiple-output) technology, according to Carlson.