RealTime IT News

802.11g Products Available

It's like the early days of 802.11 wireless LANs again, only faster.

In the late 90's, before the IEEE had finished approving the specification for 11Mbps 802.11b in the 2.4GHz radio frequency (RF) band, 11b products started going on the market so people could take advantage of what was considered a hot new technology. Now the same thing is happening with 802.11g.

This technology is in the same RF band but jumps the speed up to 54Mbps, but it's still in the draft stage of the specification. However, that hasn't stopped leading wireless LAN (WLAN) vendors from making products, many of which were announced this week in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Those that have announced prices are revealing 802.11g to be much more price friendly than the early 802.11a products were at this time last year. Better yet, with 11g, they're backwards compatible with all the existing 802.11b products already out there.

Actiontec debuted its new line of 802.11g products based on Intersil's PRISM GT chipset, including a wireless broadband router that incorporates an ADSL modem. They'll also have a CardBus adapter card, an access point, a standard wireless broadband router (with an extra PC Card slot for expanding to support technologies like Bluetooth), and an Ethernet to Wireless adapter. All the products support up to 152-bit Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption for security. Actiontec expects its products to ship in February or March; no prices are available yet.

Belkin show off its complete line of 54g Wireless products (named for the Broadcom 54g chip inside of them), which includes a wireless router ($149.99), access point ($139.99), CardBus card ($79.99), and PCI adapter ($79.99). Belkin's products will offer a turbo mode to boost speed and feature an Easy Install Wizard which Belkin says will insulate users from complicated networking info such as the use of IP address or host names. The Wizard works with Windows 98 on up to XP and will soon be on MacOS 8.6 and higher. The products should ship next week.

Netgear was on hand at CES with its 54Mbps/2.4GHz wireless product line based on the Intersil PRISM GT, which includes a CardBus Card ($79) that will be out this month, a router ($149) out next month, and an access point ($139) out in March. No pricing or shipping date was available.

Also on display at the show were the already announced 11g products from D-Link using Intersil's PRISM GT chips, the AirPlus Xtreme G line that includes a router with 4 port switch ($149.99) and CardBus adapter ($79.99).

Other companies with 802.11g products already on store shelves are Linksys with its Broadcom-chip-based Wireless-G access point ($229.99), broadband router ($220), PCI Card (which ships this month) and CardBus adapter ($119.99); and Buffalo Technology, which has the AirStation line of broadband router ($199) and CardBus card ($99), both using Broadcom chips, also.

All prices listed are manufacturer's suggest retail prices; expect to find them much lower in stores or online. The finalized specification for 802.11g is expected sometime in 2003.