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Electronics Production | December 21, 2005

ST joins wireless consortium

STMicroelectronics announced its membership of the Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC), a broad coalition of Wi-Fi® industry leaders formed in October 2005 to accelerate and promote development of the IEEE 802.11n high-speed wireless standard, which promises to more than quadruple the performance of today's wireless local area networks (WLANs).
ST believes it important to ensure that features specifically designed to enhance battery life and to improve communication range are incorporated into the new standard to provide proper support for handheld devices.

The new specification is being developed by the IEEE 802.11 Task Group N (TGn), which is charged with developing a next-generation Wi-Fi standard capable of sustaining higher data throughput over an extended range and with improved power management for handheld devices. It will be a particularly important standard in the WLAN market as it will build upon and extend the capabilities for the vast number of users worldwide who currently enjoy the benefits of Wi-Fi connectivity through IEEE 802.11a/g, and will ensure interoperability across the wide range of new products expected to join the market.

The focus of ST's wireless network activities is on Wi-Fi/Cellular phone convergence, whereby a single device such as a handset can operate under a range of protocols. It aims to bring to EWC its expertise in low power System-on-Chip (SoC) technologies, to ensure that the new high throughput features are fully compatible with the requirements of handheld devices, improving users' mobile experiences with longer battery life and whole-building coverage.

By proposing a specification with widespread industry support, EWC hopes to speed ratification of the 802.11n standard, while enabling the early development of high-performance WLAN products built to a common set of guidelines. The specification is designed to enable consumers to enjoy new levels of wireless performance, coverage and interoperability, by defining technologies that address emerging handheld and consumer electronics applications as well as the PC and networking equipment market.

ST is almost unique in concentrating 11n product development on the requirements of the mobile market, where its knowledge of advanced coding provides a significant improvement in the range of single antenna 802.11n mobile stations in an asymmetric 11n network. It was a partner in an earlier consortium – WWiSE (Worldwide Spectrum Efficiency) – whose technical submissions to TGn have now largely been absorbed into the EWC draft specification alongside those of other industry groups including TGn Sync.

“Accelerating the delivery of an enhanced 802.11n public standard can only benefit the Wireless LAN market, and ST is pleased to join EWC to assist in this aim,” said Edoardo Merli, Deputy General Manager of ST's Wireless LAN Business Unit. “Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output, MIMO technology delivers significant improvements in throughput, as well as greater range and more reliable links – all key requirements for the fast growing converged Wi-Fi/Cellular device market.”

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