New wireless LAN standard gets IEEE approval

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) on Thursday approved a new standard for wireless LANs operating in the 2.4-GHz band called 802.11g, a move that could boost speeds of existing, widely installed wireless LANs from 11M bit/sec. to as much as 54M bit/sec.

Intersil said it planned to produce chip sets that will operate at speeds of 54M bit/sec.

Gregory Williams, president of Intersil, said in a statement that the new standard represents a "huge win" for the wireless industry because it is "backwards compatible" with existing 802.11b wireless LANs, which have an installed base of 11 million users.

Matthew Shoemake, chairman of the IEEE high data rate study group and manager of research and development for the wireless networking business unit at Dallas-based Texas Instruments Inc., called 802.11g the next critical step to insure "quick adoption of a higher data rate standard."

Products based on the 802.11g standard will compete with new wireless LAN systems introduced at Comdex/Fall 2001 this week by Intel Corp. and Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Proximal Inc., which also deliver 54M bit/sec. under the 802.11a standard, as well as technologies trademarked Wi-Fi5 by the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance. That standard operates in the 5-GHz unlicensed spectrum band.

Alan Reiter, an analyst at Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing in Chevy Chase, Md., said users trying to determine which wireless standard to use should keep in mind that they could encounter interference in the 2.4-GHz band used by Bluetooth short-range wireless devices, as well as products based on 802.11b and 802.11g.

The proliferation of wireless standards should mean price breaks for products operating under the 802.11b standard, which has already attained economies of scale, Reiter said.

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