Intel sets strategy on wireless networking

By : |September 13, 2001 0

NEW YORK: Top chip maker Intel Corp. on Monday set a broad strategy for the
emerging business of wireless computer networking, joining the board of an
industry group that backs one standard while unveiling plans for a line of
speedier networking equipment using another standard.

Wireless networks have become popular in homes, businesses, and public places
such as coffee shops and airports, allowing fast Internet connections without
the tangle of cables. Supporters expect the technology to be eventually
incorporated into televisions, stereos, and other home electronics.

While Intel has become a key backer of the largest wireless networking
standard, known as Wi-Fi, it does not plan to support it exclusively.

In November, the company will begin selling a line of products supporting a
much faster networking system called 802.11a, which can transmit and receive a
heftier array of audio, video and other data.

The 802.11a standard can transfer data at 54 million bits of information per
second, while the Wi-Fi standard – also known as 802.11b – has a speed limit of
11 million bits per second. Intel joins Proxim Inc. and others in planning to
ship 802.11a products by the end of the year.

"Intel’s 802.11a products will deliver more ‘bits per buck’ by enabling
up to five times more bandwidth while working alongside with existing 802.11b
networks without interference," Greg Lang, an Intel vice president, said in
a statement.

Concurrently, however, Intel upgraded its status in the Wireless Ethernet
Compatibility Alliance, the Wi-Fi trade group, becoming a member of the board of
directors. The alliance was founded by electronics powerhouses such as Cisco
Systems Inc. and Nokia in 1999, and has succeeded in establishing the Wi-Fi
system as the de facto standard in both home and business wireless networking.

Despite growing sales, wireless networking products have been plagued by
repeated disclosures of security gaps that let interested intruders tap into the
networks from as far away as a company parking lot.

The development of wireless network has also been limited by some confusion
about myriad, incompatible communications standards. The development of Intel’s
own wireless strategy demonstrates the rapid changes in the development of
wireless networking.

Intel had supported two wireless systems, Wi-Fi and HomeRF, to address the
business and consumer markets, respectively. Earlier this year, however, Intel
switched its allegiance entirely to Wi-Fi. Intel’s plans for 802.11a, as well as
the growth of a separate system called Bluetooth, add to the mix.

(C) Reuters Limited 2001.

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