Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2006 (Revised June 2007)

Atheros Communications

by Thomas R. Eisenmann and Lauren Barley


Managers at Atheros, a leading provider of wireless local area network chipsets, must decide whether to join a special interest group (SIG) proposed by Intel to end an impasse over standards for the 802.11n (11n), the next generation of "Wi-Fi" technology. Two factions are supporting rival proposals for 11n standards in the IEEE, the electronics industry's chief standards-setting organization. Working outside the IEEE's formal processes, Intel's SIG would advance a compromise that could break the deadlock. Alternatively, the SIG could provoke a backlash, resulting in the IEEE's approval of a different standard for 11n. In that event, Intel and its SIG allies would suffer a severe time-to-market setback in exploiting what promises to be a large, fast-growing chip market.

Keywords: Intellectual Property; Standards; Wireless Technology; Semiconductor Industry; United States;


Eisenmann, Thomas R., and Lauren Barley. "Atheros Communications." Harvard Business School Case 806-093, February 2006. (Revised June 2007.)