Wireless LAN alliance announced standard

Wireless communications received a boost yesterday with the announcement of a global local area network (LAN) standard based on radio-wave technology called HiperLAN2, and the high-profile consortium, the HiperLAN2 Global Forum (H2GF), established to promote it.

The group has a long way to go, however. It has actually to finish details for the standard, and then create the global network and the products that work on it.

Company representatives from H2GF founding members -- technology giants Bosch Telcom, Dell Computer, Ericsson, Nokia Wiressless Business Communications, Telia Mobile AB and Texas Instruments -- were on hand at press conferences in London and Atlanta to push the technical specification standard, which promises to bring high-speed connections and products to wireless and mobile networks for corporate, public and home uses.

"Simply put HiperLAN2 equals wireless LAN," H2GF chairman and Nokia vice president Vesa Wallden said.

HiperLAN2 is based on newly developed radio technology that is being designed specifically for LAN communications in conjunction with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute's (ETSI) standard development project Broadband Radio Access Networks (BRAN).

The details for the standard are not expected to be finalised until the end of this year. Furthermore, tests on the HiperLAN2 standard are not planned until some time in 2000 and standard-compatible products aren't expected until late 2001, with general availability optimistically pegged for "early 2002".

Representatives of the telecommunications companies promised the broadbad wireless technology would process information on a frequency band of 5GHz. The band is currently unlicensed and can work on an Internet Protocol (IP) backbone.

Wireless LAN technologies, including Ethernet, for the most part currently use the 2.4GHz band on the 802.11 standard.

"Convergence is coming and it is being driven by IP. We want to control it from an end-user perspective," said Liam Quinn, a senior engineering manager from Dell Computer.

Shared HiperLAN2 networks would have to be set up with multiple access points and multiple channels for truly broadband access, such as wireless shared networks that would allow full freedom of movement within offices, for example.

Access point base stations would also be required to establish the wireless connection. "Yes, significant investment would be required" to establish HiperLAN2 networks, Wallden said. But he was quick to point out that such investments should not be more expensive than establishing cable-based networks and that HiperLAN2 has both authentication and encryption security support that cable networks feature.

Membership in HiperLAN2, which includes voting rights, will cost $US5000 annually.

The HiperLAN2 Global Forum has a Web site at http://www.hiperlan2.com.

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