Comcast Jumps on Wi-Fi Bandwagon

Intel Corp. and Comcast Cable Communications Inc. have struck an
agreement to jointly develop and test a set of home networking products
consisting of a new residential broadband gateway, wireless network adapter
and cable modem based on the so-called Wi-Fi wireless networking standard.

With the announcement coming out of the National Cable &
Telecommunications Association’s Cable 2001 show in Chicago, Comcast became
the latest participant to throw its hat into the ring behind the 802.11b
networking specification, which will bring data to wireless users at 11
Megabits per second (Mbps). A home network will enable Comcast customers to
share a single broadband Internet connection, printers and drives, and
transfer files between all the computers in and around their home.

“We’ve reached an agreement to leverage Comcast’s input in the
development,” said Jenni Moyer, Comcast spokeswoman.

However, Moyer indicated that both companies are only in the initial
stages of joint development. No timetables have been set for product
deployment and no such rollout is expected until next year.

“Home networking will move Comcast customers one step closer to our
vision of the broadband-enabled house. We expect our work with Intel to
produce an effective roadmap for delivering high-quality, flexible home
connectivity products,” said David Juliano, senior vice president and
general manager of Comcast’s Online division.

To be sure, 802.11b isn’t the only wireless specification in the
spotlight at Cable 2001. On Monday, Proxim received a pledge of support from
Motorola for its HomeRF 2.0 — the next-generation frequency-hopping
technology that is supposed to supercharge the glacial pace of current
standard. Other HomeRF backers include Compaq and Siemens.

But 802.11b has its own list of powerhouse backers, most notably Intel, which ditched HomeRF for the Wi-Fi team in March. Others include Texas
Instruments, Intersil, Lucent Technologies and Apple Computer.

“Intel is really driving the technology. 802.11b is a proven standard
with high-bandwidth capacity that is commercially available now,” Moyer
said.

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