RealTime IT News

Comcast Jumps on Wi-Fi Bandwagon

Intel Corp. and Comcast Cable Communications Inc. have struck an agreement to jointly develop and test a set of home networking products consisting of a new residential broadband gateway, wireless network adapter and cable modem based on the so-called Wi-Fi wireless networking standard.

With the announcement coming out of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's Cable 2001 show in Chicago, Comcast became the latest participant to throw its hat into the ring behind the 802.11b networking specification, which will bring data to wireless users at 11 Megabits per second (Mbps). A home network will enable Comcast customers to share a single broadband Internet connection, printers and drives, and transfer files between all the computers in and around their home.

"We've reached an agreement to leverage Comcast's input in the development," said Jenni Moyer, Comcast spokeswoman.

However, Moyer indicated that both companies are only in the initial stages of joint development. No timetables have been set for product deployment and no such rollout is expected until next year.

"Home networking will move Comcast customers one step closer to our vision of the broadband-enabled house. We expect our work with Intel to produce an effective roadmap for delivering high-quality, flexible home connectivity products," said David Juliano, senior vice president and general manager of Comcast's Online division.

To be sure, 802.11b isn't the only wireless specification in the spotlight at Cable 2001. On Monday, Proxim received a pledge of support from Motorola for its HomeRF 2.0 -- the next-generation frequency-hopping technology that is supposed to supercharge the glacial pace of current standard. Other HomeRF backers include Compaq and Siemens.

But 802.11b has its own list of powerhouse backers, most notably Intel, which ditched HomeRF for the Wi-Fi team in March. Others include Texas Instruments, Intersil, Lucent Technologies and Apple Computer.

"Intel is really driving the technology. 802.11b is a proven standard with high-bandwidth capacity that is commercially available now," Moyer said.