Broadcom puts 802.11a/b/g, CCX in Laptops

As of this week, Dell is offering its Latitude D notebook series (the D600 and the D800, each with Pentium M Processors) with a choice of Wi-Fi options: The basic unit comes with 802.11b using Intel Centrino; the TrueMobileT 1300 upgrade adds 802.11b/g for no extra money; and brand new is the TrueMobileT 1400 which adds 802.11a/b/g for $69.

The latter two are both using chips provided by Broadcom, which says it’s the first company to ship a dual-band miniPCI device that supports high-speed networking in both 2.4 and 5GHz bands.

Last week, Broadcom announced that its 54g-branded 802.11g chips would be shipping in some of HP’s Compaq Presarios. Dell prefers to keep its own branding, but it’s still Broadcom underneath. While Centrino is the basic option in these Latitudes, Broadcom’s senior director of marketing, Jeff Abramowitz, says “you can see momentum behind Broadcom solutions.”

Abramowitz says the 802.11a/b/g solution on a miniPCI card “future proofs” the units, that with notebook lifetime at 3 to 4 years and the cost for a business to swap a miniPCI card at around $250 per notebook, it makes sense to get the highest speeds you can get, now.

The Broadcom’s chips will also support Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) when it’s available (Dell users will have to wait to get the upgrade direct from Dell), and soon Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX) will be on all Broadcom AirForce WLAN chips for client systems. CCX gives client nodes the same features as a Cisco Aironet client card, ensuring it will work with a Cisco-based WLAN infrastructure.

CCX support is not immediately available for the AirForce chips, but the company will offer it via an update to its OneDriver software later this year.

Broadcom’s 802.11g support, like all current 802.11g support, is based on the draft specification. The final 11g standard not due to be ratified by the IEEE until the summer of this year.

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