June 02, 2006, 10:05 AM — Atheros and Broadcom have moved to head off criticism of their draft-compliant 802.11n products by holding their own interoperability tests.
The tests, held over the last month, show that Atheros' XSPAN and Broadcom's Intensi-fi chipsets connect with a throughput greater than 100Mbit/s, using mandatory modes of the current IEEE 802.11n draft specification, according to the companies.
"The excellent performance demonstrated between Atheros and Broadcom devices shows that the 802.11n draft, when adhered to and properly implemented, supports multi-vendor interoperability," said Bill McFarland, chief technology officer of Atheros.
The companies, which are holding interoperability demonstrations at the Computex conference in Taiwan on 6 -10 June, argued that the pre-standard kit could offer users an easy transition to gear tested and certified by broader industry groups -- something about which industry observers have expressed plenty of scepticism.
"Multi-vendor interoperability is the clear goal for next generation Wi-Fi because it alleviates the incompatibility and limited selection of products that plague users of proprietary products," said Bill Bunch, director of 802.11n product management for Broadcom's Home and Wireless Business Unit.
The companies said they expect to carry out more tests between various big wireless companies to ensure an increasing number of systems can work together. "Over the coming months, the testing will lay the groundwork for successful Wi-Fi Alliance testing when the organization's certification process is finalized," the companies stated.
Gartner has heavily criticized Wi-Fi vendors for claiming that recently-launched products comply with the yet-to-be-finalized 802.11n standard. The criticism followed on the heels of tests from the likes of Farpoint Group, which discovered numerous shortcomings with the pre-802.11n gear.
Among Farpoint's findings was that hardware from Airgo, that doesn't claim compliance with draft 802.11n but uses technology expected to be in the final 802.11n specification, performed significantly better than rival "compliant" gear.
The IEEE approved a draft of 802.11n in January, after much infighting, and since then several companies have released products claiming to comply with the draft. A few noted by Gartner, released in April, are the Wireless-N Broadband Router and Wireless-N Notebook Adapter from Cisco's Linksys division, and the RangeMax Next device from Netgear.