Broadcom says that Atheros's 108 Mbps mode in its Super G featureset found in NetGear and D-Link devices significantly degrades nearby network performance across the entire 2.4 GHz band: Associate Editor Nancy Gohring and I filed this breaking news for PC World's online news site today. The allegations by Broadcom could shake the consumer industry slightly. We wrote this story now because Broadcom plans to demonstrate their findings at Comdex next week, and we felt this was the right time to provide the context we'd be been researching all week for the story.
If the methodology Broadcom used to conduct the tests is reproducible -- they claim these tests show that Atheros's products have a large negative impact on 802.11b and 802.11g networks -- then D-Link, NetGear, and Atheros will need to issue firmware upgrades, disable the mode, or recall equipment. Equally problematic: if Broadcom's claims are not reproducible or their testing methods and assumptions are faulty, they've gone a long distance out of their way to make themselves look unreasonable.
You might wonder why Nancy and I filed for PC World instead of breaking this news directly at this site. When Broadcom first briefed me on this problem on Monday of this week, I turned to the PC World editor who had recently assembled an exhaustive coverage section on 802.11g access points and their configuration and compatibility. That set of articles showed that many current 802.11g devices still have bugs to be worked out.
In discussions with the reviews editor and the online news editor at PC World, we talked about how best this story could be written without being either speculative or sensationalist. Their advice and willingness to act as touchstones in our reporting made it clear that we should work with them on the story. They vetted this through their network experts as well to confirm that the technical details were right.
I had and have a lot of trepidation about this story. We don't want to seem naive and give credence to a claim that's scientifically provable and which I've seen the results of but not the process until we know that it's reproducible. But given that this is about to go prime time, as it were, we all felt it was the right point to provide as much background as possible to root Broadcom's claims and Atheros's rebuttal in reality.