Fast WLANs to get outing at fashion show

Even before 54mbps WLANs are approved for use in Europe, they will be paraded at London Fashion Week

Just months after a demonstration of WLANs at the London Fashion Week in October, newer and faster WLANs will be on show at the repeat event in February -- even before they are legally approved for general use in the UK. The event will be the first time UK residents can get a look at a network based on the fast 802.11a standard, which is expected to be approved here in the first half of next year.

Such networks are eventually expected to be a common sight in offices, as well as in public places like coffee shops and airports, where they make it simpler for mobile users to get online.

While the IT industry clearly has no interest whatsoever in fashion -- unless the anorak ever comes back -- Intel is hoping to repeat its PR coup of setting up a WLAN at the fashion schmooze-a-thon. As with the last show, visitors will be given iPaq handhelds that receive a continuous video feed from the catwalk over a WLAN, so as not to miss a single exotic outfit.

This time round, however, the images will be better quality, as the link will run at 54mbps instead of 11mbps, thanks to the IEEE 802.11a specification. Intel is being allowed to do this, even though 802.11a is not licensed for use in Europe, by the European Telecommunications Standards Agency (ETSI).

"The UK Radiocommunications Agency is able to issue temporary licences for 802.11a WLANs, as long as they are only operating for a limited time, cover a defined area and do not support a commercial service," said David Bradshaw, Intel's EMEA product manager for WLANs.

Firms wishing to try out 802.11a may be able to get similar temporary licences, but for long-term use of 54mbps WLANs, they will have to wait for the standard to be approved by ETSI and for the UK RA to ratify it.

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