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Cheap, up-to-30-device Ethernet-to-Wi-Fi generic bridge from Linksys: Not only is the device I've been predicting and wishing for, but it's cheap: suggested price of $129. The device accepts a single device or a hub connection and can retransmit up to 30 downstream devices. 3Com sells a competing device that works with up to four Ethernet devices for about $250 street price. The unit supports WEP.
Broadband Wireless Alliance forms FCC committee: In another sign of increasing maturity in the industry, members are doing it for themselves (to quote the Eurythmics). The committee is an attempt to create a formal channel between wireless ISPs and the FCC, to better communicate the industry's needs. At the same time, the BWA is working on creating a method for multiple wISPs to better sort out the kind of problems that happen when multiple networks start impinging on each other. Because the FCC doesn't offer guidance in that area for unlicensed devices, and rightly so, a formal alliance of interested parties is an excellent way to reach consensus.
Seattle Times on cooperation: Nancy Gohring filed this report on the contretemps in the last week or so about Wi-Fi frequency conflict with T-Mobile. T-Mobile appears to have taken the classy way out of the situation by simply upgrading their software. No new reports have surfaced since.
Barron's on Wi-Fi's disruptive effect on 3G [paid subscription required]: Bill Alpert writes in Barron's about Starbucks and T-Mobile's Wi-Fi hot spot rollout, and speculates that although there are a flies in the ointment (shared bandwidth problems with free networks, spotty coverage, signal overlap), that there's still some potential for hot spots to take advantage of 3G's initial expense and its ongoing tardiness. Alpert makes just a couple of mistakes, implying that Wi-Fi is 2 Mbps (later he says that 802.11a could be 25 times faster); and that all the shared bandwidth used for free networks is not being shared under the terms of providers' agreements.
At the end of the piece, he notes that Intersil's share of the market is still 65 percent, which is remarkable for an incumbent in the middle of a disruptive market change. Alpert points out that Marvell, a little-known dynamo, just announced a set of Wi-Fi chips that eventually could sell for as little as $5. Such chips today cost $15 to $25. Marvell's radio and PHY single-chip design is all in CMOS, a very cheap alternative to the more exotic silicon germanium and other compounds often used in radio technology. (The MAC chip is still separate, but those are pure commodity items.) CMOS chips can be made in many plants and on extremely large wafer sizes, which reduces costs. Five dollars is a great target, and a surprising near-term one, but when they hit full-scale multi-million chip production, the cost will certainly hit even lower numbers.