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RealTime IT News

What Makes Wi-Fi So Compelling?

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The ability to serve the homes, enterprise and the mass market settings is what makes Wi-Fi more compelling than any other radio technology such as HomeRF, Bluetooth or fixed access services, a top Agere Systems official said.

In fact, for just that reason, Wi-Fi has supplanted next-generation cellular systems and made the race for 3G obsolete, said Allan Scott, Director Marketing and Business Development at Agere Systems' Wireless Communications & Networking Division.

"WiFi is 3G," Scott told attendees at the inaugural 802.11-Planet Conference and Expo here at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

All the major regional Bell operating companies are quietly becoming involved with the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance, the non-profit trade organization that seeks to certify interoperability of 802.11 products and coined the phrase "Wi-Fi." In addition, fixed wireless service providers such as Sprint have already folded its ION operations, effectively raising the white flag for local multi-point distribution services (LMDS) and multi-channel, multi-point distribution services (MMDS...a.k.a. wireless DSL), the Agere official said.

To be sure, Scott acknowledges that outdoor fixed wireless will have its place -- just not in its current LMDS or MMDS forms. With multiple user environments' traditionally congested backbones, Scott believes the expanded channel capacity of 802.11a devices can relieve the bottlenecks while 802.11b devices will still allow individual last-mile connection.

"Today...all it takes is this $75 NIC and you can access the Internet at very high speeds," Scott said.

Although some believe the Wi-Fi market is still at a very early, nascent stage, Scott admitted that it is maturing. Agere's marketing efforts aren't so much aimed at convincing wireless LAN adoption as it is convincing users to adopt Agere equipment. The company on Tuesday unveiled a new broadband gateway targeted towards the SOHO sector.

"Another indication of how far that market has come," he said.