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Atheros names new CEO

The wireless networking upstart, prepping for what executives call its next stage of growth, taps a new chief and moves former head Rich Redelfs to vice chairman.

Atheros Communications, prepping for what executives called its next stage of growth, named Craig Barratt chief executive of the company and moved former head Rich Redelfs to vice chairman.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Atheros on Wednesday announced Barratt's appointment, effective immediately, and said it had been planned for several months. Atheros is a developer of wireless local area networking (WLAN) chips and is recognized as one of the major players in the growing Wi-Fi industry. Wi-Fi lets people access a network wirelessly and share resources on that network. Barratt joined Atheros in April 2002 as vice president of technology.

Barratt's "deep understanding of wireless systems and his strong track record of operational excellence make him the perfect choice to extend Atheros' technology leadership position in the WLAN market and help the company move into new application areas that will enhance its future business growth," John Hennessy, Atheros' chairman, said in a statement.

Atheros was one of the first companies to deliver 802.11a chipsets, which have taken a backseat to 802.11b chips in terms of shipments into the retail market, the largest segment of the wireless networking market. The company is pushing to expand its position in the industry, diversify its customer base, and extend into new markets such as consumer electronics.

"Revenue for this quarter is exceeding our plans, and we're shipping record volumes." Barratt said. "Our traditional business is doing very well."

Barratt added that Atheros will look to the consumer-electronics market for new growth. He sees distribution of multimedia content over home networks to be a good fit for Wi-Fi and consumer-electronics devices. Major consumer-electronics makers will begin to launch products with wireless networking capabilities in the coming months, he said.

Atheros counts D-Link, Gemtek, Intel, Linksys, NetGear, Philips Electronics, Samsung and Sony among its customers. In late January, Atheros pit itself against Intel and the Centrino bundle of chips when the wireless networking company announced that Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, IBM and NEC are customers for its dual-mode 802.11a and 802.11b chip in notebooks.