HomeRF WLANS Advance, Retreat

Wireless home networking is about to arrive at the flash point in which its popularity will explode and most of those home networks will be 802.11b, according to a report released Monday by Cahners In-Stat/MDR. However, that didn’t stop the seemingly vanquished HomeRF technology from moving forward.

According to the high-tech research firm, as wireless network card prices dip below $100 and wireless access points cost only $150 to $200, home wireless area networks (WLANs) will become increasingly desirable.

“The idea of being wirelessly connected to the Internet is slowly becoming flashy and sexy, at the same time boosting mobility and productivity,” said Gemma Paulo, an industry analyst with In-Stat/MDR.

In addition, the study indicates that 802.ll technology increasingly will be embedded into a variety of devices and not just added on to them. Specifically, 802.11 capabilities will increasingly be embedded into laptops and wireless gateways so that the technology is included in products designed for the home.

WLANs using 802.11 technology made significant advances against competing HomeRF technology in 2001, the report notes. About 45 percent of all WLAN nodes sold in 2000 were HomeRF, but that penetration shrunk to about 30 percent in 2001, the report notes. The market penetration of 802.11 products is expected to increase even more over time, the report said.

Total home WLAN nodes sold in 2001 were about four million, according to the report.

That news hasn’t stopped adherents of HomeRF from moving their technology forward, however. The HomeRF Working group announced Monday that products based on its new HomeRF 2.0 specification have been certified for use in Europe by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

The new version of HomeRF operates at 10 Mbps, which is roughly the same as 802.11 products. Among the reasons for 802.11’s momentum is that, until the HomeRF 2.0 spec was released, it was far faster than its competitor.

HomeRF adherents claim it is a better protocol for the home because it provides higher-quality multimedia and is more compatible with other technologies such as short-range Bluetooth devices.

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