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Tech firms, Defense Dept. discuss Wi-Fi

Tech companies and the Department of Defense are working on solutions to promote wireless networking while preventing the technology from interfering with military radar.

Tech companies and the Department of Defense are working on solutions to promote wireless networking while preventing the technology from interfering with military radar, according to the government agency.

The sides are working to eliminate interference in future Wi-Fi products and are hoping to see the first results within months, said Badri Younes, director of spectrum management at the Department of Defense. Wi-Fi is a technology that allows devices located within a 300-foot radius to communicate without wires.

"When you move into someone's house, you have to show that you are going to be a good guest," Younes said.

The Department of Defense is not looking to affect current Wi-Fi specifications, or products using those specifications, and is concerned more about the international use of future Wi-Fi products rather than their domestic use, Younes added.

Executives from technology companies and representatives from the Department of Defense met earlier this month in Geneva at the World Administrative Radio Conference to discuss issues surrounding Wi-Fi technology.

The ailing communications industry has been looking for a silver lining, and many companies have latched onto Wi-Fi in hopes of rejuvenating consumer interest. The technology is making its way into everything from PCs to DVD players. Indeed, industry analysts are forecasting significant growth in the coming years as consumers complement their high-speed broadband access with wireless networks and as manufacturers add Wi-Fi to devices such as tablet PCs and handhelds.

The Federal Communications Commission, the government agency in charge of regulating and doling out radio spectrum, has not reported any civilian wireless access interfering with military radar.

The Department of Defense is seeking limits on Wi-Fi wireless networking, saying it's necessary for national security reasons, according to a report Tuesday morning from The New York Times.

An Intel spokesman confirmed that the company has been working with the department and other tech companies to develop a solution that's fitting to both sides' needs. Intel is developing chips to allow PCs using its processors to connect to Wi-Fi networks.

"Intel is interested in growing and expanding wireless networking technology. We're holding out hope that there is a solution, and we're hoping for a technical compromise," said Daniel Francisco, an Intel spokesman.