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Wi-Fi group gives time frame for approval

The Wi-Fi Alliance says that by the summertime it will have certified products based on the latest wireless networking specification, 802.11g.

Hoping to assuage concerns about the latest wireless networking specification, an industry group gave its time frame for the completion of interoperability tests ensuring optimal performance of new gear.

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced Tuesday that it will complete interoperability tests of 802.11g-based products in July. Completion of those tests depends on the approval by the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) of the 802.11g specification as a standard. Earlier this month, the IEEE said it expected to finalized the 802.11g standard in June. A Wi-Fi Alliance representative said products using the 802.11g standard with interoperability certification could be on store shelves as early as August.

Gear using the 802.11g standard and with interoperability certification should put to rest concern in the industry regarding what level of performance customers will be getting with these new products.

Products with early versions of the 802.11g specification are already in the market, but some networks that use these products experience less than optimal performance when an 802.11b client enters the network. 802.11b and 802.11g are meant to coexist. Networks based on the 802.11b standard support transfer rates of 11mbps, and 802.11g is expected to handle 54mbps.

The Wi-Fi Alliance will ensure that certified 802.11g products will be interoperable with each other and 802.11b products and that the maximum rates will be 54mbps, according to Amer Hassan, a Wi-Fi Alliance spokesman.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has started developing its testing methodology but will not complete testing until the IEEE finalizes the 802.11g specification.

In related news, hardware maker NetGear announced on Tuesday that it will be using Atheros Communications wireless networking chips in its products. In March, NetGear will ship dual-band 802.11a/g PC cards for $129. Dual-band 802.11a/g access points and routers will be available in the second quarter. Pricing hasn't been determined yet.