N+I: IEEE Wireless standard brand backed

Looking to promote the IEEE 802.11 standard for wireless LANs, the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance - including Apple, Compaq and Dell - has announced a branding program for compatible products and new members of the group.

Looking to promote the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) 802.11 standard for wireless LANs, the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) on Wednesday announced a branding program for compatible products and new members of the group.

Unveiled by WECA at the NetWorld+Interop conference here, the "Wi-Fi" brand, for Wireless Fidelity, will be applied to products having been certified as compliant with the 802.11 standard for 2.4GHz-band wireless computer and communications products. Testing will be done by Silicon Valley Networking Lab of San Jose, Calif., once WECA and the lab complete a test suite currently in development.

New members of the alliance include Alantro, Apple, Breezecom, Cabletron, Compaq, Dell Computer, Intermec, No Wires Needed, Sharewave, Wayport and Zoom. They join founding members 3Com, Arronet, Intercel, Lucent Technologies, Nokia and Symbol Technologies.

Officials of WECA are promoting the 802.11 standard wireless communications for applications in the enterprise, education, home, small business and public access.

"We're all backing one high-rate wireless standard," said Don Cohen, vice chairman of WECA and wireless product manager at 3Com in Santa Clara, Calif.

While 802.11 standard is the group's mantra, WECA anticipates that the Bluetooth specification will become the standard for WPANs, or short-range, wireless personal-area networks. The WECA announcement came just a day after an announcement of an industry consortium, the HiperLAN2 Global Forum, to support HiperLAN2, a wireless standard for products operating in the 5GHz frequency.

Nokia belongs to both the HiperLAN2 Forum and WECA. But 3Com's Cohen was not ready to back HiperLAN2, although he would not rule it out.

"I think (802.11) is the technology for now and for the next several years," Cohen said. Although a 5GHz band presents an opportunity for higher data transmission rates, products are not available to operate at this frequency, he said.

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