An Epic of GilgaMESH?

In the great, ancient saga known as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gods send a powerful foe to vanquish the mighty Gilgamesh, but after a great battle, they become allies. Will the just-announced SEEMesh group vanquish the Wi-MESH Alliance, or may they yet join forces?

Yesterday we talked about how standard wars can become deadly (at least for any animal unlucky enough to get caught in the crossfire). Today, the struggle takes on epic proportions.


As noted yesterday, when standards-based products get hot, so does the vying for control over which standard those products will be based upon. For the last several years, and for the foreseeable future, that’s the reality for the IEEE 802.11 family of standards. Wi-Fi is a big enough deal that each time the 802.11 Working Group gets started on another standard in the family, battle is joined between rival groups with competing technical proposals. Sometimes, it seems like the 802.11 Working Group is like some mythical world that the great god vendors peer down upon, sending their favorites into the fray, and watching as they do battle. A bit over the top? Let’s try this:


In the great Babylonian (and earlier) saga known as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gods create the wild man Enkidu to vanquish the mighty, but harsh, Gilgamesh. But after a great battle, the two rivals become allies (in some versions, even lovers). Sometimes, the same thing happens in standards competitions, with the combatants making common cause and marching forward into the marketplace, arm in arm (and sometimes, as with VHS and Betamax, it doesn’t). So — Will the just-announced SEEMesh group vanquish the Wi-MESH Alliance, or will they join forces and get on with it?


Here’s what’s apparently going on, as reported by Eric Griffeth in the latest in a series of articles at The venue is Task Force S in the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi Working Group, which is working on a new standard to facilitate MESH networks for Wi-Fi access. First came a proposal from a vendor group headed by Nortel, and backed by a new group called the Wi-Mesh Alliance. Then came a rival proposal from Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Texas Instruments and Motorola. They’ve given their alliance a name as well: SEEMesh (as in “Simple, Efficient and Extensible Mesh”).


So there we are. Will both sides go for broke, if neither vanquishes the other in a quick victory, or will they make common cause, like Gilgamesh and Enikdu (and, more recently, by the two rival camps in the 802.11n face-off, involving some of the same companies)?


It looks like Eric is going to keep on top of this story, so looks like the place to stay tuned to.