Wi-Fi Standards Watch: 802.11g OK nears
- By John K. Waters
The 802.11g wireless standard is closer than ever to final approval. The IEEE technical committee, which has been working on the latest Wi-Fi standard, delivered the 8.2 version of its draft technical specs last week. That version must still pass a review by the IEEE Standards Board Standards Review Committee that is scheduled for June 12, but the committee is expected to ratify the latest specs as the final form at that time.
The 802.11g is seen as a speedy replacement for the plodding 802.11b, which transmits data at 11 megabits per second (mbps), as well as a low-cost alternative to the high-performance 802.11a, which is pricey due to its utilization of the 5GHz band. 802.11g utilizes the 2.4 GHz band to deliver the same 54 mbps data transmissions as 802.11a; and because they both use the same band, "g"-based equipment can co-exist with "b"-based gear on the same network.
Although some vendors have shied away from 802.11g because of early interoperability problems with 802.11b products (most notably Microsoft and HP), a number of vendors are undaunted by the incomplete standard. Dell Computer has been promoting a Broadcom-based 802.11a/g wireless card for its notebook PCs. And Intel recently announced that it would begin to use the technology in its Centrino bundle sooner than planned. Centrino is a combination of three technologies bundled into laptops: Intel's new, low-power Pentium-M processor; a chipset; and Wi-Fi components.
Wi-Fi network gearmaker Linksys, another early adopter of the technology, continues to develop 802.11g-based products despite initial problems. That move is now seen as a contributor to the company's lead in the home networking equipment market.
In fact, according to a study by the Dell'Oro Group, products based on 802.11g accounted for 16% of the wireless networking market's revenue and 17% of shipments in the first quarter of 2003. That study also found that worldwide revenue for wireless networking equipment reached $411 million in the first quarter. That figure is 1% higher than the previous three-month period, according to Dell'Oro researchers.
Next on the standards approval list is 802.11i, which is designed to replace WEP and WPA security algorithms.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached