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RE: [802SEC] Bad press Re: pre-std "g" equipment

Bob / Pat / Roger,

Thanks for pointing out where interpretations can be found on the web
and in documents.  I especially like having a pointer in the standards
themselves.  That actually helps a lot for my concerns.  One note, while
I think such a link should be in the front matter of all our standards,
I don't think today that is a fact.  At least some of our older
publications don't seem to have it.  I assume it will be inserted in all
standards going forwards.

Best Regards,


Matthew Sherman 
Vice Chair, IEEE 802 
Technology Consultant 
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 

-----Original Message-----
From: Bob O'Hara [] 
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 2:18 PM
To:; Sherman,Matthew J (Matthew);
Subject: RE: [802SEC] Bad press Re: pre-std "g" equipment


Thank you for the suggestion.  The 802 home page has been updated with a
bit of text and a link near the top to the standards interpretations.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] 
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 9:11 AM
Subject: RE: [802SEC] Bad press Re: pre-std "g" equipment


Speaking from the perspective of an older working group, there are good
reasons that the maintenance process is not faster. It is fairly easy to
spot a problem and quickly make a change that makes things worse
especially when there is already a lot of equipment deployed.

Most of the corrections we have made to 802.3 have been fairly minor and
not things that affected interoperability, but some of the ones that
have been minor interoperability concerns took time because it wasn't
clear what the right solution was. It does take about a year if one
discovers a bug and doesn't already have a PAR open. The PAR will have
to be approved at a plenary meeting, then one has working group ballot
followed by approval to forward to sponsor ballot (a second plenary) and
approval to submit to Revcom (a third plenary) then approval at the
Standards Board meeting - 3 plenaries menas at least 8 months plus the
time to the next Standards Board meeting. 

Interpretations are available on the IEEE website:
though it would be nice if there was a link to this page from the IEEE
standards home page. I had to find it by searching on interpretations
and standards. 

We could at least add a link to the page from the IEEE 802 home page.
IEEE 802.3 provides an interpretations link on its home page which goes
to a list of all the 802.3 interpretations and also has a link to the
IEEE page above.


-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 8:13 AM
Subject: RE: [802SEC] Bad press Re: pre-std "g" equipment


While this particular case took a bit less than a year, I think it is
the exception rather than the rule.  Admittedly, corrections should run
faster, and I think a typical number of about a year (or perhaps a
little less) is a good guess.  I'm not sure what a goal should be.
Perhaps a year is good enough, or perhaps 6 months or something on that
order would be better.  Regardless, I think it is always good to look
for way of improving the process.  If people are satisfied with a
process that takes about a year, lets stick with it.  But, personally,
I'd like to see something that can run a little faster if possible.

One concern I have with interpretations is how they are recorded.  To my
knowledge, they occur in the WG minutes, and in a formal response to who
ever requested the interpretation.  They are not widely distributed, and
might be hard to locate after the fact.  Perhaps if they could be
included as some sort of addendum on released standards, it would make
the mechanism more useful corrections.



Matthew Sherman 
Vice Chair, IEEE 802 
Technology Consultant 
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 

-----Original Message-----
From: Roger B. Marks [] 
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 9:54 AM
To: Sherman,Matthew J (Matthew)
Subject: RE: [802SEC] Bad press Re: pre-std "g" equipment


I don't think that the 802 process makes it too hard or 
time-consuming to correct errors.

Let me take an example: 802.16c. We submitted a PAR in February; it 
was approved by the SEC in March, and we issued a Call for 
Contributions. In May, we released a draft and opened a Working Group 
Letter Ballot. We opened Sponsor Ballot on August 5. The final draft 
(Draft 4) was issued on October 4 and approved in December.

802.16c included a lot more than maintenance; it was 92 pages long, 
and maintenance was just a tag-along to the primary content. If we 
were doing maintenance alone, it would have been a lot easier (though 
probably not much faster).

If you look at the process as having taken nearly a year, then it 
sounds a bit long. However, the final draft was finished less than 
eight months after the PAR was submitted. And most of the corrections 
were in the draft issued less than four months after the PAR 
submittal. Overall, I think that the time frame was short enough.

I understand that a larger group, or more contention, could lead to 
slower progress. However, I don't think that the process of 
developing corrections in 802 in inherently too slow.

Also, don't forget the option of an interpretation, which is suitable 
for fixing some kinds of errors and can be done very quickly by the 
Working Group alone.


At 10:57 PM -0500 03/02/17, <> wrote:
>Well you got me on this one.  Somehow I glossed over it when I was
>writing my response to Geoff (I did catch it when you first sent it
>out).  But I should note that it was a quote of a rather disgruntled
>sounding individual, and I did not think it represented the author's
>opinion.  The author ended the article clearly coming down on Wi-Fi,
>IEEE.  The real question is what are we going to do about it?
>If we feel that IEEE is being misrepresented, then it is up to us to
>respond in some way to ensure that these perceptions are not
>However, when they are presented as one person's opinion I'm not sure
>what we can do.
>As for your further comments, there are some parts of the process I'd
>like to see changed.  My feeling is that when something in the standard
>is clearly broken, there needs to be a "fast track" to fix it.  You had
>suggested opening a PAR the other day in the 802.11 interim, and I
>misinterpreted your meaning as to create a standing PAR for corrections
>to the standard.  In my mind, a lot of the process is just getting a
>approved.  I'd almost rather that once a project exists, corrections to
>standards the project produced are possible without getting a new PAR.
>I know that goes against the current process, but to me this is one
>possible way to improve the current process.
>Also, about your comment on the IETF and interoperable prototypes, I
>like that idea a lot.  However, when we (AT&T) have tried to bring in
>hardware demos of a proposed standard in the past we were told that
>things aren't allowed in our meeting.  We had to do the demo "off
>So I guess my question is what could be done to permit more of the IETF
>approach which requires demonstration of hardware and interoperability
>during the standards development process?
>Best Regards,
>Matthew Sherman
>Vice Chair, IEEE 802
>Technology Consultant
>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
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Bob O'Hara []
>Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 8:05 PM
>To: Sherman,Matthew J (Matthew);
>Subject: RE: [802SEC] Bad press Re: pre-std "g" equipment
>I'm not sure how you can say this article "didn't come down on IEEE at
>all" with a straight face.  I quote from the article below:
>"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." "
>Regarding your point about the turn-around time in the IEEE process, I
>agree.  It takes a relatively long time to modify the standard.  I have
>not found any parts of the process that I would like to see changed,
>though.  It is really up to the working groups to determine how they
>produce their draft to send to Sponsor Ballot.  Currently, 802.11 is
>mostly in "invent, then standardize" mode, which takes quite a long
>and results is a high probability of problems discovered only after
>deployment.  An alternative method is one used in the IETF; "show me
>different and interoperable implementations, then I might standardize
>it".  This takes longer up front, but seems to result in fewer
>interoperability problems after deployment.
>Seems like a "pay me now or pay me later" situation.
>  -Bob
>-----Original Message-----
>From: []
>Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 3:58 PM
>To:; Bob O'Hara
>Subject: 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
>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
>Just my two cents.
>Matthew Sherman
>Vice Chair, IEEE 802
>Technology Consultant
>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
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Geoff Thompson []
>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
>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.
>>   -Bob
>>-----Original Message-----
>>  >
>>  > New wireless 11g 'standard' ends in tears
>>  > By Guy Kewney,
>>  > Posted: 10/02/2003 at 08:43 GMT
>>  > <>
>>  >
>>  > 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
>>  > 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
>>  > 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
>>  > 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
>  > > benefit of a finally agreed IEEE standard to conform to, and with
>>  > 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
>>  > 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
>>  > for sure which ones cause the problems. He's not allowed to,
>>  > the tests where this bad news was established are secret. WiFi
>>  > specialist site, Unstrung, reports: "Fueling industry anxiety is
>>  > 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
>>  > 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
>>  > interworking.
>>  >
>  > > Today, Nick Hunn responded angrily: "In my belief, 'standard'
>  > > something that everyone adheres to for the common good. Within
>  > > 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
>>  > chip vendors can't take the medicine of having to throw away their
>>  > competing development," he commented. "As regards
>  > > at least the standard has taken a leaf out of the Hitchhiker's
>>  > 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
>>  > which worked poorly. One vendor shipped faulty 54g equipment for
>>  > review, and we found that not only was the signal indecipherable
>>  > 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
>>  > They have PC notebooks with plug-in PC card adapters. Throw away
>>  > old 11b adapter, plug in the new 54g or alternative, and you're
>>  > 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,
>>  > 11b and 11a, not 11g, built in. They will perhaps be able to plug
>>  > 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
>>  > 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;
>>  > 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
>>  >
>>  > 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
>>  > 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
>>  > 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
>>  > 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
>>  > gear. The WiFi Alliance turned out to be helpless to intervene,
>>  > its credibility will be hard to re-establish.
>>  >
>>  >
>>  >