802.11a Certification Testing Underway

A slew of news came out this week from the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA), the nonprofit consortium behind the testing and certification of 802.11b based products to make sure they are fully interoperable. Any 11Mbps 802.11b product tested and deemed worth can carry the Wi-Fi Certified stamp of approval from WECA — testing has now begun on 54Mbps 802.11a products.

Since 802.11a products have been shipping for several months, why the delay? According to a quote from WECA chairman Dennis Eaton in the release, WECA feels that “several different products need to be available, based on more than one chipset, to begin testing.” Whether the certified 802.11a products will carry a seal with the title “Wi-Fi5”, to differentiate the 5GHz products from the 2.4GHz products of 802.11b, as previously announced remains to be seen.

Testing should be made easier for the group as they’ve also opened two new overseas testing facilities, one in Tokyo, another in Singapore, in equipment testing manufacturer Agilent Technologies’ Interoperability Certification Labs (ICL). Testing takes between two and four days to complete on each product. There are currently over 360 Wi-Fi certified wireless products available including access points, PCI cards, PCMCIA cards, Compact Flash cards, USB clients, residential gateways, print servers, and mini-PCI modules.

This growth in Asia is key for WECA, since companies from the area now represent about 45% of the 154 WECA members. Seven new members from Japan, Taiwan, and Korea were recently added, including RadioFrame. According to Eaton, a year ago WECA’s majority was from North America. Long time general member Sony Corporation, which is also headquartered in Asia, has even taken a seat on the WECA board of directors.

For a complete listing of WECA members and currently certified products, visit www.wi-fi.org.

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