IEEE Works to Increase Wireless Speeds, Simplify Home Networking

Carl Weinschenk

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), one of the international gatekeepers of the protocols that carry bits and bytes between here and there, is busy on a couple of fronts.

Network World reports that an international committee is meeting this week in Taipei to tie the bow around a new version of WiMax, which is designated 802.16m. The official signoff will occur in March and, if the schedule holds, the technology will be in stores next year. Rethink Wireless also posted a story about the Taipei meeting. The key graph of the piece sums up the advantages of the new standard:

Once 16m is approved this quarter, manufacturers will be able to pre-install the technology and begin the testing programs. Rakesh Taori, vice chair of the 802.16 working group, told IDG that key enhancements will be better battery life for devices; privacy protection for users and their locations; and the doubling of bandwidth, which will enable data rates that will leapfrog those of LTE and get closer to the goal of 'true 4G', at 100Mbps while mobile.

The wireless spectrum is confusing. Indeed, purists insist that neither version of WiMax or Long-Term Evolution (LTE) being rolled out now is truly 4G, though service provider marketing departments are working overtime to make the impression that it is. That confusion is likely to grow as the new specs-there is another version of LTE on the horizon as well-progress and get more attention.

On the (mostly) wired side, the IEEE is working to bring the many home networking protocols under the same virtual roof. Light Reading reports that a new initiative, P1905.1, is aimed at creating an "abstraction layer"-a sort of electronic free-trade zone in which all comers are accommodated.

The story mentions powerline, Ethernet, version 1.1 of the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) standard and Wi-Fi as physical standards that could be handled by the finished standard. It is labeled as the Convergent Digital Home Network for Heterogeneous Technologies as well as P1905.1. The story provides a good deal of detail on the standard and, particularly, its relationship to, a roughly equivalent standard from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The world of telecommunications is getting increasingly crowded and complex, both inside and outside the home. These putative standards will do both: One will increase wireless speeds, while the other will simplify what happens in the home.

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