Three’s Company on 802.11 Planet

PHILADELPHIA — With 802.11a products due to hit the market soon and
an 802.11g standard in the offing, a battle between
the two standards for the mantle of successor to
802.11b would seem only natural. In the end, though,
the 802.11 world might just be big enough for all
three.

That was the message this morning at the 802.11 Planet
Conference, which is hosted by internetnews.com’s
parent company, INT Media Group.

Yorman Solomon, director of
business development for Texas Instrument’s wireless
networking business unit, neatly summed up the
situation.


“802.11b is here to stay,” he said, “and
it’s here to coexist with 802.11a and 802.11g.”

The reason for the resilience of 802.11b, also known as
Wi-Fi, is its continued popularity. In his keynote
opening the conference Tuesday morning, Dennis Eaton, chairman of the
802.11 trade group Wireless Ethernet Compatibility
Alliance (WECA), said Wi-Fi was a “promiscuous
technology,” outstripping even the most optimistic
predictions. “The growth has never ceased to amaze
me,” he said, “and we believe we’re at the beginning
of the growth curve.”

Eaton referred to statistics from Cahners In-Stat that
50 million people would use 802.11 in 2005. Solomon
said that figure was most likely low, joking, “This is
the first time in history I say the numbers from the
analysts are way too low.”


Both Jim Zyren, the
director of strategic marketing in Intersil’s wireless
networking products unit, and Richard Redelfs, CEO and
president of Atheros Communications, agreed.

“You have to have 802.11b, it’s the standard,” Zyren
said.

Yet, instead of the market shaping up to be a fight
between 802.11a and 802.11g for those 50 million will
use, Solomon said 802.11b will continue to hold sway
because its install base is already between 15 million
and 20 million.

“We want to drive this industry and 11b is the
standard that;s going to drive this industry,” he
said.

The future will most likely bring more dual-band
devices, like
Intersil’s announcement of Duette last week
.
While Intersil’s Zyren touted 802.11g’s coverage and
Atheros’ Redelfs sang the praises of 802.11a’s roomy
5GHz spectrum space, both agreed that a universal
client would eventually take root. Naturally, they
disagreed about which standard would operate most
prominently along Wi-Fi.

Once again, however, Solomon was able to split the
difference, saying, “Let’s use both. Why do we need
to choose one over the other?”

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