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Mobile

802.11 gets graded

Textbooks and training manuals used by an estimated 50,000 people who manage an office's wireless network are getting their first inspection.

Textbooks and training manuals used by an estimated 50,000 people who manage an office's wireless network are getting their first inspection.

The review for any errors or quality issues will be done by the Wireless LAN Association, a nonprofit organization representing companies that build wireless networks in offices and homes using the 802.11 standard. The standard lets equipment from different companies work together on the same wireless network.

Though WLANA Executive Director Anthony Armenta said he hasn't heard of any major gaffes in existing training materials, WLANA hopes to improve the quality of them.

"There's no standard of knowledge for these people. Somebody had to do it," said Kevin Sandlin, co-founder and CEO of Planet3 Wireless, in Atlanta, Ga. The company's training programs and self-study guides have been approved by WLANA.

This is the first time an independent trade association has tried to accredit these training materials, which were published after the first products appeared at the end of 1999, said Armenta.

The low cost of wireless equipment using the 802.11 standard fueled a sales surge since 2000, when the number of people using wireless local area networks rose by 150 percent, according to Synergy Research Group.

Between 25,000 and 50,000 people now install and manage 802.11 networks every day. The networks let people roam freely with their computers in a closed area and still receive access to the Internet or a computer network, Sandlin estimates.

Aaron Vance, wireless industry analyst for Synergy Research said only a small number of companies have managers specifically for 802.11 networks. Most are instead "now adding local area networks to their responsibilities."