Developers of China’s native wireless standard all but reviled the International Standards Organization for refusing to adopt its controversial technology.
The Chinese group also accused the Institute of Electronics Engineers Inc of dirty tricks to prevent the Chinese standard being adopted in favor of the American-backed WiFi technology.
The China Broadband Wireless IP Standards Working Group, or BWIPS, issued a terse statement calling the ISO’s rejection of its homegrown WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI) protocol unfair and unreasonable.
This is unacceptable, BWIPS said of the ISO’s decision, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
WAPI rose to notoriety in 2003 when the Chinese government announced mandatory adoption of the technology in all wireless local area networks sold in the country. However, WAPI is technically incompatible with the IEEE-approved 802.11i WiFi standard.
Most of the WLAN industry and some governments opposed China’s WAPI regulation because it meant most standard WiFi equipment could not be sold within China unless it had WAPI. According to the IEEE, more than 200 million WiFi devices would not be supported by WAPI and that its Chinese developers have failed to define a suitable upgrade path to WAPI.
Numerous companies, notably Intel Corp, which helped develop 802.11i, argued WAPI created an unnecessary trade barrier.
Chinese regulators claim WAPI is more secure than 802.11i. But access to a secret WAPI encryption feature, which drives all of WAPI’s data security, required a technical partnership with government-selected Chinese companies.
But this would mean possible intellectual property rights and business risks, according to IEEE 802.11 Working Group documents obtained by Computer Business Review. What’s more, the WAPI proposal has not been subject to any open review.
In 2004, the Chinese government agreed to postpone promulgation of the regulation indefinitely. But WAPI’s technical incompatibility with existing WiFi equipment remained unchanged.
Last week, the ISO voted against adopting WAPI as an international standard. An 802.11 Working Group member, who asked their name not be published, said WAPI did fail by a significant margin.
Instead, ISO members voted the IEEE’s 802.11i standard for adoption.
Now BWIPS has accused the IEEE of spreading misinformation about WAPI and plans to ask the ISO for an investigation into IEEE’s dirty tricks during the voting procedure.
BWIPS said the IEEE acted selfishly and irresponsibly in order to protect the commercial interests of an unnamed monopoly seemingly a reference to Intel, the world’s biggest chipmaker.
The BWIPS said supporters of the IEEE standard used a lot of dirty tricks, including deception, misinformation, confusion and reckless charging to lobby against WAPI, reported Xinhua.
We express our indignation and resolute opposition against IEEE and its agents for their complete disregard for the position of the Chinese side and blind opposition to WAPI, the BWIPS reportedly said.
According to Xinhua, the Chinese government has insisted that it will continue to support WAPI and that the ISO’s rejection of the standard will not affect its domestic use.
What’s more, a group of 22 companies formed last week to promote WAPI, including Lenovo, the third-largest PC maker, and Huawei Technologies, one of the largest makers of communications switching gear.
IEEE documents suggest that Chinese delegates have not been willing to cooperate with the IEEE to harmonize WAPI and WiFi. Chinese backers of WAPI repeatedly refused to consider any approach except full approval of WAPI as is, according to an IEEE document that was sent to ISO voters prior to the most ballot.
Chinese regulators also walked out of a meeting with the IEEE in Germany in February 2005, the document said.
The results of last week’s vote will be discussed when the ISO members meet again in June.