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To: Jack Hartmann who started this subject5/12/2002 6:15:16 PM
From: Dexter Lives On
   of 467
 
Best of Interop Judges Name Atheros' AR5001X Combo 802.11a/g/b WLAN Solution as Grand Prize Winner at NetWorld+Interop 2002 Las Vegas

Editors from CMP Media LLC's Network Computing, InformationWeek and EE Times Select Atheros as the BEST OF INTEROP, GRAND PRIZE AWARD Winner

SUNNYVALE, Calif., May 8, 2002-Atheros Communications Inc.'s AR5001X Combo 802.11a/g/b WLAN Solution was named the Best of Interop, Grand Prize winner at NetWorld+Interop 2002 Las Vegas by CMP Media LLC's Network Computing, InformationWeek and EE Times.
Introduced in March 2002, the AR5001X Combo WLAN Solution is a highly integrated three-chip set supporting the high-performance IEEE802.11a, the 802.11g draft, and legacy 802.11b wireless specifications. The chipset is the industry's first to support all of the IEEE wireless LAN standards. It also sets a new industry benchmark for wireless security, performance, and international interoperability.

The AR5001X is sampling today and is being implemented in customer Mini PCI, CardBus and Access Point products that are scheduled for availability in the second half of 2002. The chipset offers a comprehensive security suite including a line-speed engine for the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), WEP/TKIP support for backward compatibility with older systems, 802.1x authentication, and support for virtual private networks (VPNs) and virtual LANs (VLANs).

Using Atheros Smart SelectTM technology, the AR5001X will make wireless LANs much easier to use by automatically choosing the optimal radio-frequency specification (a/g/b), data rate, error correction method, power management features, and security protocol for the available wireless network. Smart SelectTM then dynamically adapts to changing conditions as the user roams within that network. The chipset also includes support for the 108-Mbps Atheros Turbo Modeä and Dynamic Frequency Selection and Transmit Power Control features to satisfy European requirements for 5 GHz Wireless LANs. For more details about the innovative AR5001X Combo WLAN Solution, visit www.atheros.com.

The editors of Network Computing, InformationWeek and EE Times - the premier media brands in their respective categories - reviewed submissions and then scoured the show floor evaluating new products, selecting the Grand Prize Winner from among the Best of Interop award winners.

The Best of Interop Awards are designed to help IT and network managers shorten the evaluation process in assessing new products. By identifying innovative products debuted at NetWorld+Interop, the Best of Interop Awards assist in the quest for Internet-enabled solutions. Atheros' AR5001X Combo WLAN Solution was singled out from a field of products already selected as winners in their categories to receive the highest honor of Grand Prize Winner from over 250 entries.

"With all the great new products being shown here this week, we are honored that this demanding panel of judges selected Atheros' chipset for the Best of Interop Grand Prize," said Rich Redelfs, president and chief executive officer for Atheros. "It's great to see the judges recognize the efforts our engineers have made to drive the wireless future by enabling secure, scaleable, connect-anywhere WLANs at an affordable price."

"IT and corporate management are charged with identifying the products, technologies and services that will drive results," said Ron Anderson, Lab Director for Network Computing and head of this year's Best of Interop distinguished editorial judging team. "We selected Atheros' AR5001X Combo WLAN Solution as the Best of Interop Grand Prize Winner because we believe it exemplifies the critical aspects necessary to solve business initiatives. It is truly the best-of-the-best debuted at NetWorld+Interop 2002 Las Vegas," stated Anderson.

About CMP Media

CMP Media (www.cmp.com) is a leading high-tech media company providing essential information and marketing services to the entire technology spectrum-the builders, sellers and users of technology worldwide. Capitalizing on its editorial strength, CMP is uniquely positioned to offer marketers' comprehensive, integrated media solutions tailored to meet their individual needs. Its diverse products and services include newspapers, magazines, Internet products, research, direct marketing services, education and training, trade shows and conferences, custom publishing, testing and consulting.

About NetWorld+Interop

NetWorld+Interop is the world's premier education and interactive event forum for technical professionals responsible for network and IT strategies from large enterprise and service provider organizations. The professional and business interests of the community are promoted through 4 proven elements: Quality education taught by experts in networking, technology demonstrations featured in our InteropNet programs, an interactive show floor featuring top networking and telecommunications vendors, and a global platform delivering quality events in 6 countries

NetWorld+Interop is a Key3Media event. Key3Media Group, Inc., is the world's leading producer of information technology tradeshows and conferences, serving more than 5,300 exhibiting companies and 1.3 million attendees through 60 events in 17 countries. Key3Media's products range from the IT industry's largest exhibitions such as COMDEX and NetWorld+Interop to highly focused events featuring renowned educational programs, custom seminars and specialized vendor marketing programs. For more information about Key3Media, visit www.key3media.com

About Atheros Communications

Atheros Communications is the leading developer of networking technologies for secure, high-performance wireless local area networks. As the industry innovator and market-share leader in wireless OFDM technology compliant with the IEEE 802.11 specifications, Atheros is driving transparent connections among electronic devices in the office, home and on the road. Atheros technology is being used by many of the world's leading wireless equipment manufacturers including Accton, Actiontec, ALPS Electric, Intel, Intermec, Netgear, Philips, Proxim, SMC Networks, Sony, TDK, UltraDevices and others. For more information, visit www.atheros.com or send email to info@atheros.com.

atheros.com 

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To: Jack Hartmann who started this subject5/19/2002 11:17:01 PM
From: Czechsinthemail
   of 467
 
CS First Boston

Intersil

(ISIL-$30.21-Cap $4.3B-Price Target $46-Buy) Tim Mahon

Closes ELNT Acq – Compelling Value FY02: $0.66, FY03: 0.96

* Intersil yesterday completed its acquisition of Elantec. The acquisition process was completed 6 weeks ahead of schedule enabling accretion to begin in Q4:02, 1 qtr ahead of its original estimate.

* ISIL narrowed its guidance for the qtr to the upper end of the prior 6-8% range, citing rev growth expectations for all of its product lines. It appears ISIL needs few turns to meet its 8% guidance.

* Now that the transaction has closed, we believe ISIL will proactively revisit every notebook computer manufacturer and negotiate volume purchase agreements based on a total bill of materials including: flat panel display devices, WLAN, power management, and other analog components. We believe this strengthens ISIL’s importance and will help alleviate pressure from suppliers who are planning to introduce WLAN solutions later in the year.

* Intersil is trading at 5.0x our new CY03 revenue estimate and 31.5x our CY03 EPS estimate. This represents a 44% and 32.6% discount to the average CY03 P/S (9.0x) and P/E (46.7x) of our analog names. With $534 million of analog revs in F03 ISIL is becoming a powerhouse in this space, therefore we would be aggressive buyers of the stock at current levels. Our $46 price target represents 7.6x CY03 sales.

investor.cnet.com  05015-0.html?tag=ltnc

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To: Jack Hartmann who started this subject5/20/2002 12:29:17 PM
From: Czechsinthemail
   of 467
 
Business Week on wireless:

businessweek.com 

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To: Jack Hartmann who started this subject5/26/2002 10:26:11 PM
From: Dexter Lives On
   of 467
 
Intersil had better get it in gear...

Atheros has just added Agere and Samsung to an already impressive partner list:
atheros.com 

JMHO. Rob

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To: Dexter Lives On who wrote (365)5/27/2002 8:38:39 AM
From: Dave
   of 467
 
Rob, .11a is more expensive than .11b. I wouldn't be too worried about Atheros.

Now, what would worry me is if Intel puts .11x funtionality within their chipsets.

Now, that would kill ISIL.

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To: Jack Hartmann who started this subject6/4/2002 10:35:14 AM
From: Czechsinthemail
   of 467
 
Intersil Announces Industry's Most Advanced Laser Driver for DVD/CD Recordable 'Super Drives'

Newest Write Strategy Programmable Dual Laser Driver Engine Enables Faster Write Speeds for All DVD/CD Recordable Formats

IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 4, 2002-- Intersil Corporation (Nasdaq:ISIL - News), a world leader in the design and manufacture of high performance analog and wireless networking solutions, today unveiled the new EL6295C programmable laser driver. This industry breakthrough in programmable architecture is targeted for the emerging dual-writer `super-combo' drives that can Read and/or Write all CD and DVD disc formats. Addressing one of the fastest growing semiconductor markets in the industry, the EL6295C will allow optical storage manufacturers to develop DVD drives that will record 4.7 GB of information (movies, music or data) in just over seven minutes.

"The EL6295C is the third generation of our EL629XC Write strategy programmable laser driver IC's. Improvements include increased performance in both the CD and DVD `X' speed Write performance and the integration of key system-level functions," said Mohan Maheswaran, vice president and general manager of Intersil's Elantec Product Group. "The EL6295C shows our commitment to offering the highest performance products to our customers. The EL629XC architecture lets optical drive OEMs design a single product for all industry CD and DVD formats with a longer lifecycle and a higher value than any current products."

Third Generation Programmable Architecture

The new architecture integrates the standard DVD and CD Write-strategy waveforms into the laser driver, which eliminates the need to drive high-speed timing signals over flex cables from the controller IC to the optical pickup unit (OPU). The Write waveforms are programmable through internal resisters that support all of the DVD and CD formats, media and speeds. Internal command and data registers are programmed through a serial bus interface. This integrated architecture increases the `X' Write speed performance dramatically compared to current generations of laser diode drivers.

EL6295C Advanced Technical Features

Advanced features of the EL6295C include an integrated two-channel sample-and-hold (S/H) amplifier that is programmable under register control for four separate gains to provide real-time power control of the Read, Erase or Write level. Running optical power control (ROPC) is also expected to reduce the readback error caused by disc dust and fingerprints. The channel clock speed of 210 MHz enables up to an 8X DVD Write and up to 48X CD Write performance. Other features include programmable amplitude and frequency modulation, a low noise read amplifier, a programmable laser slope compensation digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and a programmable laser threshold current DAC.

EL6295C Availability and Pricing

The EL6295C is available now in the tiny 38-pin leadless plastic package (LPP). Each IC is priced at $4.00 in 10,000-unit quantities. Contact Stephen P. Sacarisen for more information: (408) 945-1323 Ext. 345.

To learn more about Intersil's Elantec optical storage devices and solutions, visit the Intersil Web site at: intersil.com 

About Intersil

Intersil Corporation manufactures and markets high performance analog and wireless networking solutions. As a global semiconductor leader, Intersil focuses on four of the industry's fastest growing markets - flat panel displays, optical storage (CD and DVD recordable), power management, and wireless networking. Intersil brings added customer value in providing complete silicon, software and reference design solutions to new products that enhance the computing experience for people wherever they live, work or travel. For more information about Intersil or to find out how to become a member of our winning team, visit the company's web site and career page at: intersil.com 

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To: Jack Hartmann who started this subject6/5/2002 10:39:54 AM
From: Czechsinthemail
   of 467
 
Intersil's New Dual-Band Chip Set Unites the 802.11a, b & g WLAN Standards

IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 5, 2002--Intersil Corp.(Nasdaq:ISIL - News):

PRISM Duette delivers seamless compatibility for WLANs operating in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands
Intersil will sample PRISM Duette by year's end and targets product to be on the market early in 2003
Intersil Corporation (Nasdaq:ISIL - News), a world leader in the design and manufacture of high performance analog and wireless networking solutions, today announced PRISM Duette(TM) -- a dual-band 802.11a and 802.11g Wireless Local Area Networking (WLAN) solution capable of transmitting high-speed video, voice and data at speeds up to 54 million bits per second (Mbps) while remaining 100 percent backward compatible to the existing installed base of over 15 million Wi-Fi (802.11b) systems worldwide.

"Our goal for PRISM WLAN technology has always been to ensure that 2.4 and 5 GHz WLANs are complementary technologies that offer complete flexibility in developing and deploying WLAN platforms," said Larry Ciaccia, vice president and general manager for Intersil's Wireless Products Group. "We've leveraged over five years of WLAN innovation and IC integration in creating PRISM Duette. Our unique two-chip solution will enable seamless mobility between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WLANs and provides a compelling solution for our customers."

PRISM Duette features Intersil's highly integrated Baseband Processor and Medium Access Controller (BBP/MAC) and direct down conversion (ZIF) architecture. Its dual-band OFDM-based (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) technology communicates with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WLAN devices. Because it is 100 percent standards based, PRISM Duette is an ideal technology to design into leading edge wireless networking platforms, while offering owners of existing wireless networks investment protection as they migrate towards next-generation WLAN technology.

PRISM Duette enables a wide range of broadband WLAN applications leveraging PRISM® 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz technologies to support infrastructure applications such as building-to-building wireless bridging, environments where a very high density of users require the extra channel capacity available in the 5 GHz band and bandwidth hungry applications such as video conferencing. PRISM Duette is also ideal for home networking applications such as simultaneous multi-channel streaming video and voice and CD-quality audio playback. The device also uses the 2.4 GHz band to support legacy Wi-Fi equipment performing 802.11b WLAN applications including Internet access, Web browsing and messaging.

"We're committed to providing our customers with complete 802.11a, b, g, dual-band and multi-mode WLAN solutions for portable devices that will provide seamless roaming capabilities anywhere in the world regardless of the infrastructure," commented Larry Ciaccia.

About Intersil

Intersil Corporation manufactures and markets high performance analog and wireless networking solutions. As a global semiconductor leader, Intersil focuses on four of the industry's fastest growing markets - flat panel displays, optical storage (CD and DVD recordable), power management, and wireless networking. Intersil brings added customer value in providing complete silicon, software and reference design solutions to new products that enhance the computing experience for people wherever they live, work or travel. For more information about Intersil or to find out how to become a member of our winning team, visit the company's web site and career page at www.intersil.com.

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To: Jack Hartmann who started this subject6/5/2002 3:28:46 PM
From: Dexter Lives On
   of 467
 
Intersil Sings of Duette

By Eric Griffith

Irvine, CA,-based WLAN chip maker Intersil has announced PRISM Duette, a dual-band 802.11a and 802.11g solution for future wireless network products. Because of the chip's support for 802.11g, the 54Mbps chip will be backwards compatible with the existing and ubiquitous 802.11b standard, which is limited to 11Mbps speeds. The chip will not be available until early 2003.

Duette will be 100% backwards compatible with Wi-Fi according to Jim Zyren, Intersil's Director of Strategic Marketing, Wireless Networking Products. "A fundamental requirement of g is that it must be able to fall back and communicate with b. You can't claim g compliance unless you can talk with an existing b or Wi-Fi."

Duette will utilize Intersil's integrated Baseband Processor and Medium Access Controller (BBP/MAC) and direct down conversion (ZIF) architecture to eliminate the intermediate frequency (IF) stage found in most wireless radios, reducing manufacturing complexity and overall cost. This technology is also found in the company's current PRISM 3 chip for 802.11b. The Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM)-based technology it will use to talk with both 2.4 GHz (802.11g) and 5 GHz (802.11a) WLAN devices is borrowed from the Indigo 802.11a chipset that will ship this summer.

A final standard for the 54Mbps 802.11g specification has not been finalized yet, but is expected in late 2002 or early 2003, which would coincide with release of the PRISM Duette. Even if the ratification of 802.11g by the IEEE is late, Zyren doesn't see that holding up shipment of the Duette, however.

"Before the IEEE can ratify the standard, it still becomes pretty stable," he says. "They've got a 75 percent approval already. Once you have that majority, any changes to the standard require another 75% vote, so it's hard to make significant changes. We don't expect a lot of change going forward. We know what the standard looks like, what gets ratified won't impact us going forward."

Even if there were changes at the last minute, products that ship with early Duette chips can be upgraded, say Zyren.

"Any change at [that] point would be software or firmware upgradeable. With OFDM using the same parameters for A, there's not a lot of enthusiasm for making a lot of hardware level changes."

"We were shipping B before it was formally ratified," he noted.

In February, Intersil partnered with Cisco Systems to begin work on 802.11g reference designs for OEMs using the company's PRISM GT chip, all while the specification is still in the draft stage. Zyren says that announcement was a first step, and calls PRISM Duette the next.

Intersil hopes those who wait to use products based on the single-chip, dual-band Duette will find connecting to any type of 802.11-based network easier.

"Duette is suitable for access points, but it's meant for a client -- it guarantees you being able to connect," says Zyren.

Jim Zyren of Intersil will be speaking next week at the 80211 Planet Conference & Expo in Philadelphia on June 11 on the panel "The 54Mbps Revolution: 802.11b vs.The Newcomers."

June 5, 2002

80211-planet.com 

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To: Jack Hartmann who started this subject6/7/2002 2:49:50 PM
From: Czechsinthemail
   of 467
 
Satellite radio calls off wireless complaint

Fri Jun 7, 1:56 PM ET
Ben Charny, Staff Writer, News.com

Two satellite radio stations are no longer trying to get federal regulators to muzzle the transmissions of the growing number of wireless networks in homes and offices using the 802.11 standards.

Satellite radio stations and 802.11 wireless networks both broadcast their signals on radio waves separated by only a small buffer. So far, that buffer has kept the millions of 802.11, or Wi-Fi, networks from interfering with radio broadcasts by radio broadcasters Sirius Satellite Radio or XM Satellite Radio.

A representative for Sirius Satellite on Friday said the company had withdrawn a petition to force controls on 802.11 signals, but she did not comment further. An XM representative declined immediate comment.

Last year, the radio companies told the Federal Communications Commission (news - web sites) they didn't think the relative calm would last and asked the agency to step in. Within a few years, they said, interference from the huge number of people using Wi-Fi's signal will bleed through that buffer and snarl their signals, blasting listeners with the kind of hissing, popping and humming that overwhelms a radio receiver placed too close to a cell phone.

To keep that from happening, Sirius and XM had asked the FCC (news - web sites) to consider imposing more regulations on Wi-Fi makers, including forcing them to put some controls on these spurious signals. The FCC is not required to act upon their request.

It's a fact of life that radio signals can't be as tightly controlled as a signal traveling through a wire. Bits of signals are always straying, and as more people hook up Wi-Fi networks, there will be more of these "spurious" signals, enough to breach the buffer between the two, Sirius Satellite Radio co-founder Robert Briskman said during earlier interviews.

But Wi-Fi proponents, including gear makers and network operators, don't believe there will ever be an interference problem, so they believe they shouldn't have to face more regulations or add something to their equipment that could increase the cost.

story.news.yahoo.com 

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To: Jack Hartmann who started this subject6/7/2002 6:30:24 PM
From: Dexter Lives On
   of 467
 
<font color=black>802.11 Takes Center Stage
By Brian Morrissey

June 7, 2002

The setting seems all too familiar: a technology standard gets grassroots support and a movement starts, shedding light on a once-vague notion. As popularity grows, venture capitalists rush in; big business takes notice; and evangelists predict this will change how we work and live.

To paraphrase Yankee legend Yogi Berra, the hype around 802.11 technology, which promises an un-tethered world of lightening-fast Internet speeds, is sometimes "dij` vu all over again." But without a doubt, 802.11 is moving ahead at a blistering pace. In just a few years of existence, 16 million people used 802.11 in 2001, according to researcher Allied Business Intelligence. It estimates that number will grow to 60 million by 2006.

With the industry taking off, it has reached a crossroads. The gee-whiz early days of wireless local area networks (LANs) are now over, while the nettlesome issues of future standards, security, and business models remain. How the 802.11 community answers these questions is likely to decide whether 802.11 lives up to its billing.

(Click here to view the entire Special Report on 802.11.)

Setting the Standard
The 802.11 craze began with the popularity of 802.11b, now commonly known as Wi-Fi, which allows users to wirelessly extend their networks. Since it was approved in 1999, Wi-Fi networks popped up from Berkeley to Brooklyn.

"I have not found someone who's used it and says it's bad," says Gartner Group analyst Ken Delaney. "It's definitely the Wild West, but it's a fun Wild West."

802.11b chipsets use a modulation scheme known as Complementary Code Keying (CCK) -- a form of Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) -- to transmit data signals at 11 Mbps through an unlicensed portion of the spectrum at about 2.4Ghz, sharing the space with low-power signals from home electronics like cordless phones, microwaves, and garage-door openers. With an access point (AP) serving as a bridge to a wired LAN, Wi-Fi has a range of about 100 meters.

As evidenced by its user numbers, Wi-Fi has been a quick hit, but it left many thirsting for faster speeds. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) formed Task Group G to develop a new standard, with an eye to boosting data transmission while maintaining interoperability with 802.11b.

Meanwhile, 802.11b had company with 802.11a, a companion standard published in 1999. 802.11a uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) modulation to provide data rates of up to 54 Mbps in the 5 GHz Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure band. This would quadruple the number of non-overlapping channels, from four to twelve, yielding less interference.

But 802.11a comes with some major downsides: the 5 GHz path, despite lowering interference, means more path loss, thanks to more radio frequency energy getting absorbed by walls, desks, even people. Also, 802.11a has a range of just 50 meters, half that of 802.11b, requiring more APs and using more power. Also, it only operates in North America, while 802.11b can operate in Europe and Asia.

802.11g's boosters claim it will be a boon to the industry, with 2.4 GHz that offers double the data rates of 802.11b (22 Mbps) and uses OFDM. Most importantly, it would be backward compatible with 802.11b. Also, higher data rates would be possible using two different modulation methods - 33 Mbps with Packet Binary Convolution Coding -DSSS, and 54 Mbps with Complimentary Code Keying-OFDM. The bonuses are many: higher data rates, backwards compatibility, and less path loss.

In November, Task Group G finally agreed to a set of standards for 802.11g. However, it is unlikely to be finalized until the end of this year at the earliest.

Despite the alphabet soup of modulations, many experts say there won't be much conflict between the two standards. Russ Craig, an analyst at the Aberdeen Group, says 802.11a offers a great opportunity in home-networking applications needing lots of bandwidth, like networked gaming grids and streaming video.

"The way the market is looking at this is 11b is going to be the market leader because of cost," says Navin Sabharwal, an analyst with Allied Business Intelligence. "Some product lines will migrate from 11b to 11g, others will migrate to the 11a."

And increasingly, the differences will blur, as more chipset makers roll out dual-band solutions, taking into account all standards. Just this week, chipset maker Intersil announced a dual-band chipset for 802.11a and 802.11g.

"These technologies are all going to converge into a single technology in a single chipset solution," says Dennis Eaton, an industry executive who is chairman of Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA), an 802.11 trade group.

Securing the System
Dave Juitt, chief technology officer for BlueSocket, a wireless LAN security firm, recounts a scene from just off the onramp to Highway One in Silicon Valley. Bumper to bumper, rush-hour drivers would pull out laptops and hook into vulnerable wireless networks by using the default value for Cisco APs, "tsunami". No one was harmed, just some bored commuters checking their email, but Juitt says it is an important lesson in how open to attacks Wi-Fi can be.

Wireless LANs are encrypted through the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) option, which most in the industry agrees is not very robust. Juitt calls WEP a "Band-Aid." Beginning with Jesse Walker's "Unsafe At Any Key Length" report in October 2000, various papers were published regarding WEP's shortcomings. Meanwhile, the practice of "war driving" for insecure wireless LANs received media attention.

However, not everyone agrees that the security situation is so dire.

"To some extent, there's been some scare-mongering out there," says Allied Business Intelligence's Sabharwal. "The reality is there's a lot of potential for mischief, but there haven't been a lot of instances."

IEEE is trying to remedy the problem with next-generation security standards. The IEEE's Task Group I is preparing three security enhancements, collectively known as Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP), as a short-term fix to WEP. WECA, which verifies product compatibility, would like TKIP to be available by the end of the year. In the long term, 802.11g is expected to include beefed-up security that is backwards compatible with 802.11b.

WECA's Eaton points out that the biggest problem is probably one of educating people that wireless communications are inherently less secure than wired. On top of that, Sabharawal says most enterprises running 802.11 networks would use a virtual private network (VPN) in any case, making them much more secure than just using WEP. One 802.11 aggregator, Boingo, for example, now offers VPN service for free to customers.

Rik Farrow, an independent security expert, says the threat to wireless LANs is not overblown at all "My bottom line is if someone wanted to do a directed attack against someone, finding a wireless network is wonderful," he says.

Life After MobileStar

Wi-Fi's popularity has democratic roots: community 802.11 groups, from NYCWireless to the Bay Area Wireless Users Group, showed its promise by setting up "hotspots" of publicly accessible wireless LANs across the country. Now, research group IDC estimates there are over 3,000 hotspots, a number forecasted to grow to 40,000 in 2006.

The most high-profile business trying to make money off the explosion of hotspots was Wi-Fi provider MobileStar Network, which inked a pact in January 2001 with Starbucks to bring 802.11 to the java-sipping masses.

Yet instead of becoming Wi-Fi's Amazon, MobileStar was destined to be its Kozmo. In October 2001, after running through $60 million in venture funding, the company filed for bankruptcy, leaving the nascent Wi-Fi industry with its own cautionary tale.

The reasons for MobileStar's demise, according to analysts, were not surprising: the company expanded too much, trying to be all things to all people. The remaining 802.11 service providers looked to develop niches, like WiFi Metro's urban hotzones, or to share the hefty start-up costs with hotels and airports, like WayPort.

In the end, however, the legacy of MobileStar might be what happened to it after bankruptcy. In November 2001, VoiceStream Wireless bought MobileStar's assets, giving the cellular carrier an instant foothold in the wireless LAN market, including over 500 Starbucks hotspots. In the aftermath of Deutsche Telekom's acquisition of VoiceStream, the MobileStar Wi-Fi network is part of T-Mobile.

The fate of MobileStar could augur a shift in cellular carriers approach to 802.11. Instead of viewing it as a threat to the billions the industry has spent on 3G, cellular companies might be changing their tune.

"Carriers have started realizing it's in their best interest to acquire or partner with these networks," says Allied Business Intelligence's Sabharwal. "They're worrying about cannibalization that doesn't exist."

Following up VoiceStream, Sprint PCs invested an undisclosed sum in EarthLink founder Sky Dayton's Wi-Fi play Boingo, which launched an aggregated national network of hotspots in January.

In Europe and Asia, cellular carriers have been more aggressive. Telia has dotted Sweden with hotspots, two carriers in South Korea announced plans for as many as 25,000 hotspots there by the end of the year, and Nokia will offer PC cards later this year to allow laptop users to move seamlessly between its cellular network and Wi-Fi.

Gartner's Delaney says carriers' entry is inevitable, since, despite their recent financial woes, they have the deep pockets necessary to pay the upfront costs to make 802.11 truly ubiquitous. "These [small] companies can't survive long term," he says, likening the fragmented public 802.11 market to the early days of ISPs.

"The biggest issue for the big carriers is the investment they have to make," Delaney says. "I think it will take three to four years before people will make money off this."

In the meantime, at least 20 companies have started making 802.11 chipsets. Despite sluggish tech spending and a disastrous telecom market, $1.45 billion of wireless LAN equipment was sold in 2001, up 34 percent from the previous year, according to IDC. The researcher estimates wireless LAN sales will reach $3.72 billion in 2006. Gartner Dataquest estimates the number of chipsets produced will quintuple by 2006, reaching over 45 million. The proliferation has also driven down prices, likely speeding mass adoption.

Businesses have embraced the technology, despite the widespread talk of security concerns. According to Gartner, more than half the companies it contacted had wireless LAN plans in the works.

And some analysts say the home-networking market will take off when consumer-electronics are brought into the mix. "The early market is connecting computers together," says Kurt Scherf, an analyst with Parks Associates. "The final frontier is multimedia and entertainment products in the home."

Even with the many strides 802.11 has made in the last three years, WECA's Eaton says its best days might lie ahead.

"We're very early in the development and adoption of the industry," he says. "We're seeing a significant ramp-up in Wi-Fi, but we think it's got a long ways to go yet."

internetnews.com 

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