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[802SEC] Note the Author of 802.11 / JEDEC article / editor of Semiconductor Business News

SEC Members,
While the issue over the recent Semiconductor Business New article on 802.11
has been largely resolved, there was one minor point in my mind that remains
uncorrected.  I think it is more a matter of opinion, so I have decided to
express mine to the author and the editor.  Below please find the letter I
intend to send by e-mail.  It represents my personal opinion.  I do not plan
to include my company affiliation, and will represent myself purely as an
IEEE P802 participant.  Still, I felt I should let people have a look at it
in case they would like to comment.  Please let me know if you do.

Dear Mr. LaPedus,
I recently read your article titled "JEDEC takes aim at defining wireless
LAN chip standards" in Semiconductor Business News (  While I found the
article interesting, there was one point you made that I felt was highly
biased.  In the article you state:
	"But one of the main problems with the IEEE is that chip makers and
systems houses can "stack the deck" in the standards process, according to
sources. In other words, every individual from a particular group or company
has a vote in the standards process, sources said."
I note that your sources are unnamed.  I also note that many other "sources"
might disagree with this statement.  I for one (as an IEEE 802 participant)
do not agree, and felt it might help if I clarified the IEEE process a
The assumption in IEEE P802 is that people attend and represent themselves
as individuals.  They are required by the rules governing membership to
place their company affiliations aside, and vote their technical conscience
on the matters they participate in.  Of course this is an idealized
scenario, and people do sometimes reflect their companies interests in their
opinion.  However this is less common than you might think.  Many engineers
tend to be idealist, and do cling to the concepts of democracy and free
thinking.  I will often see split votes within companies, and no company I
am aware of forces there employees to vote according to a company platform. 
Still, any process is open to abuse, and sometimes voting based on corporate
policy does occur.  IEEE P802 is aware of this possibility, and in its rules
explicitly allows for a Working Group chairperson to "Determine if the
Working Group is dominated by an organization, and, if so, treat that
organizations' vote as one".  Thus there is some flexibility within IEEE to
deal with companies that attempt to "stack the deck".  But I should note
that this rule is rarely invoked, as it is rarely needed.  The standards
developed in IEEE normally represent a broad consensus among many
individuals, and in fact companies.
Regarding the use of a one company, one vote approach, this has often been
discussed within IEEE, but does not appear to have obvious advantage over
the existing system.  First, it too is open to abuse.  Many participants in
IEEE are independent consultants who run their own companies.  While they
are often funded by other larger companies there is no way to determine
which large companies the consultants represent.  Thus by "buying" a number
of small consulting companies, a large corporation can still "stack the
deck".  Also, I am aware of a number of individuals who for various reasons
actually do attend IEEE on their own dollar, and don't have any company
affiliation.  How would these individuals be allowed to vote and
My own opinion is that there is much to be gained from the open, democratic
standards process currently practiced in IEEE.  Using a one company, one
vote standardization process has it own advantages and pitfalls, but I see
no clear and compelling reason why it would be any fairer than the current
process used by IEEE today.  I ask that this letter be published as an
editorial so that a more balanced view of your statements can be had by the
Semiconductor Business News readership.


Matthew Sherman