RE: [802SEC] Bad press Re: pre-std "g" equipment
Given that the standard isn't even released yet, I don't see how there
can be a question about 802.11g quality, or our due diligence on that
standard yet. I think this is an issue of how we interface with the
outside world, what we do to defend our name, and how we deal with
industry pressure to release products before they are done.
My own read of this particular g-bashing is that it didn't come down on
IEEE at all - rather it attacked Wi-Fi. I have seen some other similar
pieces that Bashed IEEE / 802 as well. Honestly I don't see that we've
done anything wrong yet - at least not procedurally.
Also, being on the board to me means that we ensure "due diligence" on
procedural issues. Those procedures may not be sufficient today to
guarantee issues such as compatibility from the get go. My impression
is that all our standards are becoming more complex, and there are
increased possibilities for interactions (coexistence, backwards
compatibility, etc.). The real question to me is not whether "new
projects" in our own or other groups are up to snuff, but rather are the
procedures / rules we follow up to snuff, and properly enforced. This
to me is where we need to focus our due diligence.
One thing that has greatly bothered me is the turn around time to fix a
problem in a standard. Compatibility problems are (in my opinion) more
likely to be found in the field than on the drawing board. Fixes might
be quickly developed, but for even a simple fix to be reviewed and
accepted by the standards body could (in my opinion) take a year or
more. This is a long time when vendors are chomping at the bit to get
devices to the market (and the standard has already been formally
In other industry organizations I have participated in, a number of
procedures were followed that allowed greater certainly of the
performance of a specification, and shorter time to fix it when a
problem arose. These included requiring a hardware brass board (which
becomes the gold standard for compatibility) prior to release of the
specification, and a revision notice procedure that allowed fixes to an
existing specification to be quickly evaluated and accepted/rejected.
While these bodies were not "standards bodies", it would be nice if
there were analogous processes which could be followed in developing our
Just my two cents.
Vice Chair, IEEE 802
Communications Technology Research
AT&T Labs - Shannon Laboratory
Room B255, Building 103
180 Park Avenue
P.O. Box 971
Florham Park, NJ 07932-0971
Phone: +1 (973) 236-6925
Fax: +1 (973) 360-5877
From: Geoff Thompson [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, February 16, 2003 3:31 PM
To: Bob O'Hara
Subject: Re: [802SEC] Bad press Re: pre-std "g" equipment
This only emphasizes that all members of the SEC have real
to see that new projects in other groups, as well as their own, uphold
established quality of 802 Standards.
Being on a "board" is a due diligence job, whether it is the finances of
Enron or the quality of 802 Standards.
At 10:46 AM 2/13/2003 -0800, Bob O'Hara wrote:
>IEEE, and by association 802, is getting tarred with the same brush
>this 802.11g fiasco.
> > New wireless 11g 'standard' ends in tears
> > By Guy Kewney, Newswireless.net
> > Posted: 10/02/2003 at 08:43 GMT
> > <http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/59/29250.html>
> > It is nearly a year since NewsWireless Net warned of the disasters
> > looming if American wireless manufacturers went ahead with 802.11g -
> > the go-faster WiFi standard. Now, we hear of incompatibility
> > between rival 11g products - discovered in "secret" testing
> > Are we really supposed to be surprised?
> > You can, today, buy an 802.11g (pre-standard) device. This story was
> > written on a PC connected over a Linksys WRT54G "Wireless-G"
> > broadband router. It really is running at 54 megabits a second,
> > giving a pretty good working approximation of 20 megabits per second
> > throughput. And, the good news: it will work fine with my old WiFi
> > cards on the 11b standard too, even though it slows down to 11
> > megabits (5 megabits throughput) to do so.
> > So why is this bad news? The answer is that since it works, in a
> > one-off situation like this, people will, quite naturally, buy it.
> > And then, the fun will begin; because there's no guarantee of
> > compatibility with other 11 "pre-g" standards.
> > It was Nick Hunn, managing director of TDK Grey Cell, who first
> > pointed out that there were serious problems with the idea of
> > out a 50 megabit version of the normal WiFi LAN technology, back in
> > May last year.
> > Now, the WiFi Alliance has been forced to act as rival 50 megabit
> > wireless systems have been launched on the market - without even the
> > benefit of a finally agreed IEEE standard to conform to, and with no
> > compatibility testing between the rivals, either.
> > As predicted, the result is a monumental cockup.
> > A scale of the disaster is the giveaway quote by Broadcom's Jeff
> > Abramowitz, senior director of wireless LAN marketing:
> > understand what interoperability means to them, and they are moving
> > in that direction."
> > This statement says, as honestly as you could ask for from a man
> > speaking under NDA, that we aren't there yet.
> > Abramowitz can't say "they don't interwork" even though he may know
> > for sure which ones cause the problems. He's not allowed to, because
> > the tests where this bad news was established are secret. WiFi
> > specialist site, Unstrung, reports: "Fueling industry anxiety is the
> > fact that the results of the first interoperability trials,
> > by the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Lab, won't be
> > made public." Not only will they not be made public, but the people
> > who attended them have actually been obliged to sign a
> > agreement saying that they may not discuss them.
> > There would be no need to make the results secret if they all showed
> > interworking.
> > Today, Nick Hunn responded angrily: "In my belief, 'standard' means
> > something that everyone adheres to for the common good. Within the
> > IEEE, former home of engineering, but now merely court jester to
> > vested interest, standard seems to mean 'I'm already shipping it -
> > look how big my wallet is,' or something very similar."
> > Hunn believes that the 11g concept is redundant, and should never
> > have been developed. "I've already said that .11g is a bastard
> > concept - it should have been put down eighteen months ago, but the
> > chip vendors can't take the medicine of having to throw away their
> > competing development," he commented. "As regards interoperability,
> > at least the standard has taken a leaf out of the Hitchhiker's Guide
> > to the Galaxy and comes with the comforting phrase "These are
> > drafts. Do not build product" on the front cover."
> > Our own tests here at NewsWireless Net have been hampered by samples
> > which worked poorly. One vendor shipped faulty 54g equipment for
> > review, and we found that not only was the signal indecipherable by
> > an 802.11b adapter, but it was also jumbled when the mobile units
> > moved more than 20 feet away. A replacement unit shipped two weeks
> > later works correctly.
> > However, from reports leaking out of the New Hampshire University
> > tests, it's clear that there have indeed been 54g and rival chip
> > which did not work correctly with 11b "legacy" network equipment.
> > It isn't a trivial matter. To some, it will seem trivial, of course.
> > They have PC notebooks with plug-in PC card adapters. Throw away the
> > old 11b adapter, plug in the new 54g or alternative, and you're back
> > online, four times faster - where's the downside, apart from the
> > upgrade price?
> > But to many, there is a different problem; they have notebooks or
> > pocket PCs or other devices which have the WiFi wireless built in.
> > Many PC makers have already started shipping dual standard PCs, with
> > 11b and 11a, not 11g, built in. They will perhaps be able to plug a
> > new adapter card in, but the support costs for a corporate user of
> > wireless are going to be substantial.
> > The other problem is that while 11b and 11g are supposed to be
> > compatible, that comes at a cost. The cost is speed. As long as
> > is an old legacy 11b unit broadcasting packets, the 11g devices will
> > have to switch mode to 11b, and run at a maximum of 11 megabits.
> > Some fear that manufacturers will deal with this the cruel way; they
> > will simply make 11g units that go diplomatically deaf when an 11b
> > card walks into the room, and ignore it. Hints from the test
> > laboratory suggest this has already happened.
> > Back in May last year, we quoted Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds
> > saying: "Think of the wireless spectrum as a three-lane highway in
> > which all drivers are required to change lanes every 10 seconds -
> > so bad when the roads are empty, but a probable disaster when
> > mounts. The ruling makes life easier for designers of devices
> > supporting multiple protocols."
> > The biggest loser, here, is almost certainly the WiFi Alliance,
> > was the watchdog that ran away in the night when it saw the burglar.
> > The Alliance made its reputation by insisting that only compatible
> > equipment could carry the WiFi logo. It organised tests where
> > compatbility was assured, and issued accreditation, and the result
> > was a wireless industry where wireless adapters became commodities,
> > and you could pick the cheapest.
> > This didn't suit the manufacturers. They like the idea of "winning
> > big" - of being the guy who sets the standard. They want to be first
> > out the door, forcing everybody else to follow in their footsteps,
> > and maybe, even, pay a licence fee for doing so. They hate
> > commoditisation; so why they praise the standard in public, they try
> > their hardest to undermine it and create their own statute in the
> > background.
> > If this standard is rescued, it will take time; and by the time it
> > sorted out, many dismayed buyers will find themselves with obsolete
> > gear. The WiFi Alliance turned out to be helpless to intervene, and
> > its credibility will be hard to re-establish.