Standards fracas over next-gen WiFi

The funny thing about standards is that no matter how good they seem on paper, in reality, we often find that we end up having to revamp everything anyway.

Apparently, and after the fact, this didn’t sit well with someone in Intel’s (INTC: news, chart, profile) executive suite. It seems that a small start-up, Airgo Networks (leader of the WWiSE group) sat on the most interesting 802.11n invention in the mix — a unique multiple radio technology. It was moving ahead with developing it further. Intel seemed unable to design anything competitive. Airgo had to be crushed.

In an incredibly gutsy move Intel cajoled its two primary 802.11g competitors – Atheros (ATHR: news, chart, profile) and Broadcom (BRCM: news, chart, profile) — into joining it in developing yet another 802.11n proposal or perhaps bypassing the entire IEEE process altogether and just doing a new specification Intel’s way. The flashy Marvell Corp. (MRVL: news, chart, profile) then joined them.

This happened right in the face of AMD-led accusations of Intel anti-trust violations. Wow. These guys know how to live dangerously.

What’s particularly distressing is that Broadcom was a member of the WWiSE camp before Intel came knocking.

This deal would be great for Intel except for the fact that the Intel Centrino is not the best of breed. Both Atheros and Broadcom are generally considered superior WiFi chip designers. This position of superiority is also true for Airgo with its unique high-speed backward compatible design. Greg Raleigh, CEO at Airgo says its Intel throwing its weight around because it didn’t get its way in the IEEE meetings. [Read the rest]