Intersil puts 802.11b on a single chip for about $16 each: Intersil, the major supplier of chips to enable WiFi for most vendors of equipment, announced on 4/11 that not only do they have a single chip that fulfills the entire wireless LAN function, but that in quantity, they will cost under US$16. This is a critical point to watch. Bluetooth equipment vendors have cited $5 as the price point for that product's chipsets to make it ubiquitous. Some market watchers have noted that if WiFi chipsets fell into that range, that WiFi could replace Bluetooth in a number of scenarios. Watch this trend.
Now broadcasting from the top of the Sears Tower: if you live in line of sight of the Sears Tower in Chicago, and within about 35 miles, you can get broadband speeds from Sprint Broadband Direct. James Coates's column, linked above, notes that Sprint has a bundle to tie it in with a WiFi system in the home to make the whole shebang wireless.
Proposal approved for Bluetooth/802.11b co-existence: this proposal allows Bluetooth and 802.11b to use avoidance techniques to reduce signal conflict and thus throughput. The 802.15 work group has a Task Group 2 (thus 802.15.2) which has focused on Personal Area Networks (PAN) and 802.11b co-existence. The specific proposals involved are 01/164r0 (PowerPoint) from Symbol and Mobilian, and 01/079r1 (PowerPoint) from NIST; the original documents were 00/360r0 (PowerPoint) and 01/025r0 (PowerPoint). (Download free PowerPoint Viewer.)
Truly brilliant analysis of 802.11b's current and future market: This article nails 802.11b on several scores, including its current potential, and its possible effect on 3G cellular. It also mentions Intersil, the chip maker that manufactures the vast majority of 802.11b chipsets that vendors use in their products. This quote sums it up quite well:
....on the one hand, you have the wireless carriers spending billions and billions to build out a mediocre high-speed data network that no one is really sure is in demand. On the other, you have cheap, grass-roots technology that already is solving wireless networking problems that real people have, using open standards and free spectrum.The author also mentions some news: Intersil is teaming up with another firm to offer 802.11b in a Compact Flash card. Compact Flash is used in digital cameras, handheld PDAs, electronic appliances, and other devices.
Intersil's director of strategic marketing pumps WiFi: hardly unbiased opinion, but he succinctly states the reasons for 802.11b's current rapid penetration. The opposing view from the HomeRF group is also food for thought. But, even better: watch the two duke it out in public forums on the Network World Fusion site. The HomeRF rep: "Your article was riddled with false and misleading statements." The Intersil director: "Let me point out that your article is typical of HomeRF; long on promises and assertions, but short on facts."
WiFi's WEP security is swiss cheese: yes, we all know that, but it wasn't designed to be a secure standard for data, merely to make it more than moderately hard to intercept. True, they could have designed it slightly better, and future versions will address obvious weaknesses. But use SSH, SSL, and VPNs to defeat interception. (More on those standards and systems later.)
Home networking market nearly $300 million in revenue in 2000: increases due to a large upswing in home wireless sales primarily by Lucent's (now Agere's) Orinoco division and Proxim.
Faster 802.11 specs in pipeline: two faster 802.11-based specs are getting nearer to deployment. 802.11g is one alternative, using the 2.4 GHz space that 802.11b enjoys, but offers up to 22 Mbps in raw bandwidth. 802.11a, in discussion for quite a while, shifts to a 5 GHz band, but would offer over 50 Mbps. However, a device broadcasting in the 5 GHz band cannot send signals nearly as far because of regulations limiting power output.