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HomeRF Working Group disbands

A consortium of companies promoting the HomeRF wireless home networking specification has dissolved, signaling the commercial end of the Wi-Fi rival.

A consortium of companies promoting a wireless home networking specification to compete with Wi-Fi disbanded at the beginning of the year, representing its commercial end.

The HomeRF Working Group is no longer developing, promoting or distributing the HomeRF specification, Ken Haase, the former chairman and a product marketing director at Proxim, confirmed late Tuesday. But HomeRF will be available through university partners who may study and expand upon it.

The group requested that its Web site be taken down on the first of the year, according to Web hosting company Kavi.

"There is nothing formally being done to evolve the HomeRF from a commercial standpoint?there is no formal entity driving the spec," Haase said.

The news is the final blow for HomeRF and its battle against Wi-Fi for market dominance.

"HomeRF is basically dead in the water. It has been dead commercially for a while now, but with no governing body behind it--it's really gone," said Mike Wolf, an analyst with research firm In-Stat/MDR.

The group was formed in 1998 and some of its key member companies included Proxim, Siemens, Motorola and Compaq Computer. However, the growing popularity and industry support for 802.11b helped to drive the evolution of the 802.11 specifications and lower the cost of products that were faster than HomeRF.

HomeRF was intended to be used with products in the home market, but the specification was dealt a tough blow when Intel pulled its support and focused on Wi-Fi. HomeRF was noteworthy for it ability to transmit voice and data over its networks.

Gradually companies supporting HomeRF shifted their allegiance, including Proxim, which now has the sixth-largest share of the business market for networking cards and access points with 5.1 percent, according to In-Stat/MDR. Linksys holds the top spot with 8 percent.