eWeek's Jim Louderback sees Broadcom's interference demo, accuses both Atheros and Broadcom of pursuing the wrong course for consumers: Jim was at Comdex this week and he saw the private demonstration by Broadcom of Atheros's 108 Mbps Turbo mode in their Super G extension to 802.11g. Unfortunately for Broadcom, their demonstration didn't include a control test of Broadcom gear working in normal 802.11g mode.
Jim notes that D-Link, one of the Atheros chip users, stated that Broadcom-based devices running on channels 1 and 11 at full speed also produced enormous degradation in throughput -- even though the channels are widely spaced and should have virtually no effect on one another.
What this argues, of course, is that 802.11g itself might have a major flaw in its ability to work on different channels on adjacent networks. What effect could this have? Pushing enterprise users more rapidly into the uncrowded, 24-nonoverlapping-channel 5 GHz 802.11a band, that's what. Atheros would love that, having specialized initially in 802.11a, so this whole tempest might have the unintended effect of making 802.11a substantially more attractive to the business world.
Jim concludes that proprietary modes are bad, which is accurate, but I disagree slightly with his assessment. I would argue that early implementations of draft IEEE standards generally move towards more and more compatibility (look at 802.11g's evolution, for instance, and the WPA interim standard for 802.11i), while purely proprietary plays like Texas Instruments's 802.11b+ (PBCC) tend to peter out without general support.
Because Wireless Multimedia Extensions (WME) -- which include the frame bursting technology that Intersil, Atheros, Broadcom, and Texas Instruments are currently pushing out under many names -- is part of 802.11e, which is due for ratification probably by mid-2004, I expect that frame bursting will become more and more interoperable. Frame bursting also doesn't interfere with non-frame bursting devices: burst frames are just longer frames with more data but they're entirely legal within the 802.11b and 802.11g specification.
Jim's overarching point is well taken, and it's good to get a first-person report from someone who understands the technology and its implications.