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Analyst: Intel Defection Hurts HomeRF

Intel has started the process of abandoning the HomeRF standard for in-home networking and is switching to 802.11b, according to industry analysts Allied Business Intelligence (ABI).

The switch is a major blow to HomeRF, which has been aggressively competing with 802.11b to become the major technology for home networks. Consumer acceptance of home networks are generally acknowledged as being a must before home Net devices can succeed.

According to ABI, Intel will move its next generation of AnyPoint home networking products to the 802.11b standard. Intel was one of six original promoters of the Home Radio Frequency (HomeRF) working group, which has been pushing the HomeRF standard.

Intel has cited the need for a single home networking standard. It also would save money by consolidating its home and enterprise wireless networking efforts. Enterprises have long settled on the 802.11b standard, which also has been gaining momentum in the home.

ABI said the defection will have "serious implications for HomeRF's future." HomeRF had been limited to 1.6Mbps data speeds but it has been unleashing new products based on the upgraded HomeRF specification that would increase speeds to 10Mbps. The 802.11b protocol provides speeds of about 11Mpbs.

Despite the blow to HomeRF, it's too soon to say that technology will die, ABI said. It has some built-in advantages for the home, such as support for voice telephony and streaming media and is less immune to interference, the company points out.

Those advantages, however, mean that HomeRF has less than a year to establish the new generation of products among consumers and in the retail channel. The stakes are large, ABI said. It forecasts the home networking and residential gateway market to be worth about $7.1 billion by 2005.