Next-generation wireless LANs are go in Europe

Fast WLAN let out of the Cannes...

Fast WLAN let out of the Cannes...

Intel has launched its first 802.11a enabled products in the UK, offering connections five times faster than existing wireless LAN products. 802.11a operates at 5.2GHz, unlike 802.11b which operates at 2.4GHz. It offers connections at up to 54 Mpbs, nearly five times as fast as 802.11b. The devices will be available in the UK, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, as well as France, where the system was demoed with a major deployment at the Cannes film festival. Access points and notebook computer adapters available now, and adapters for desktops should be available in the third quarter of the year. Dual-mode 802.11a and 802.11b adapters are expected on the market at the end of June. Sean Maloney, general manager of Intel's communication group, speaking at the Intel Developer Forum in Munich, Germany, warned of the danger of a standards war in this area. Confusingly, a third wireless LAN standard, 802.11g, is being developed, which is intended as a convergence path for a and b. Maloney said: "We are in the middle of a recession. This a critical time for the industry. We do not need a standards war. By the end of the year we need to have all the standards converging." UK wireless LAN fans will have to hold on for a few more weeks if they want to deploy their kit legally. A spokeswoman for the Radiocommunications Agency confirmed that 802.11a is not actually approved for use in Europe yet. However, an announcement on the use of the unlicensed frequency area that includes both 802.11a and b is expected within a couple of weeks, which will very likely make 802.11a legal - at least that is what Intel seems to be counting on. The same announcement is also expected to give the green light for commercial use of 802.11b - letting BT's wireless LAN hotspot programme out of the starting gate.