Intel WLAN can forget about Europe

It's the baddest wireless LAN on the block...

It's the baddest wireless LAN on the block...

Intel's November launch of wireless networking products will not be heading to Europe as the wireless standard used is illegal on the continent. The new products are shipping with wireless standard 802.11a - the souped-up version of relatively popular but insecure 802.11b. Although 802.11b is available in Europe, 802.11a runs on the 5GHz frequency instead of its predecessors crowded 2.4GHz space and this is the mainly why it's banned on the continent. Michael Wall, wireless LAN analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said: "It is illegal to use 802.11a in Europe as the standard doesn't comply with various [EU] requirements needed for its entry to the market. It's about the dynamic frequency selection, not a security issue," he said. Wall said Europe's wireless standard of choice is HiperLan II. This standard already operates on the 5GHz bandwidth (5.4 to 5.7GHz) and is designed to carry ATM cells, IP packets, firewire packets and digital voice from cellular phones. Wall said: "Intels' new product will probably be very expensive and I don't imagine this will be a large seller for them, at least not initially." Both protocols do a similar job, according to Wall, and it would be easy for a HiperLan II or 802.11a user to switch to the enemy. On which standard is best, Wall said: "Technologically, HiperLan II is better, but 802.11a's stronger history in North America means it has more momentum, so it may win." IEEE, the standards body behind 802.11a, has no idea when and if the protocol will be bought into line with European standards.