Raleigh believes the formation of the EWC will slow down, not accelerate, the development of 802.11n.
"The joint proposal group would have come up with a compromise by now if the initial private efforts between those core silicon competitors had not disrupted the process," Raleigh said.
The conflict between Airgo and the EWC echoes competition among pre-standard products, analysts said.
The booming wireless LAN industry has put more pressure on companies to get faster products out and to grab their piece of the rapidly evolving market, said Peter Jarich, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc. Vendors have gone ahead with pre-standard technologies that build up a momentum of their own just through sales volume, he said.
The two most prominent makers of chips for next-generation gear have been Atheros and Airgo, said IDC analyst Celeste Crystal. Both companies' approaches use multiple antennas, but their approaches are otherwise mostly different, she said.
Crystal believes the EWC companies do want to hasten development of a standard because they know large enterprises won't invest in faster wireless LAN gear until it is standardized.
Even though the EWC brings together WWiSE and TGn Sync members, it's too soon to tell whether it will bring peace to high-speed Wi-Fi, according to Jarich of Current Analysis.
"You run into the potential of having three groups now," Jarich said.
A drawn-out standards process might even lead users to grab whatever is on the market, if demanding applications such as voice over Wi-Fi are widely adopted, he added.
"If it takes another two years, you're probably not going to have people waiting," Jarich said.
However, the Wi-Fi Alliance, which tests and certifies 802.11 products for interoperability, will wait.
"We are going to develop our certification program for [802.11n] consistent with the ratification of the IEEE standard," said Frank Hanzlik, managing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. "We're not in a position to certify products until the standard is ratified, because we just believe there are too many moving parts until that happens."
Meanwhile, one EWC member is putting real product behind the group's rhetoric. On Wednesday, Marvell Semiconductor Inc. announced it is already shipping a family of chipsets based on the EWC specification. The 88W8360 chipsets are intended for use in access points, PCs, set-top boxes, residential gateways and other consumer appliances, according to Marvell.
The chipsets are available in sample quantities and the company is working with equipment vendors to develop products, said Kishore Manghnani, general manager of Marvell's Broadband Home Business Unit. Consumer products could appear as soon as early next year, he said. The company believes that whatever the 802.11n standard looks like, Marvell will be able to upgrade the chipsets' firmware or software to meet it, Manghnani said.
Industry coalition hopes to break 802.11n deadlock, Oct. 10, 2005
Enhanced Wi-Fi gear heading downmarket, Jun. 20, 2005