Intel to ease into WLAN with 802.11b chipset

Intel will not release a dual-band 802.11a/b wireless LAN chipset for its notebook processor until late in the first half of 2003, the company said this week.

Intel will not release a dual-band IEEE 802.11a/b wireless LAN (WLAN) chipset for its notebook processor until late in the first half of 2003, the company said this week.

The company will release a single-band 802.11b chipset for the Banias microprocessor early in the first half of 2003, company executives said.

However, Intel's dual-band WLAN chipset will not be released until later in the first half because Intel "wants to ensure that when it is introduced, customers get the performance, reliability and capacity that people expect from Intel," said Graham Palmer, Intel's U.K. press relations manager.

The new game plan doesn't contradict Intel's earlier stated intention to ship Banias with dual-band support in the first half of the year, according to company spokesman Tom Potts, in Hillsboro, Ore.

"What has changed is that we have now made a decision to ship the first Banias technology... with 'b' enabled only," Potts said. The decision was made in the last week or two, he said.

Intel is releasing the Banias microprocessor along with a module containing both the Banias and WLAN chips, plus other components, code-named Calexico. Calexico will initially support only lower-speed 802.11b wireless access using radio chips from Koninklijke Philips Electronics.

The IEEE 802.11b standard describes a technology that uses radio spectrum in the range of 2.4 GHz and has a maximum carrying capacity of 11M bit/sec. The more recently completed 802.11a standard uses spectrum in the range of 5 GHz and offers a maximum capacity of 54M bit/sec.

An 802.11g standard, now nearing approval, would provide for a capacity of 54M bit/sec using the 2.4-GHz band, allowing for high-speed wireless LAN gear that uses the same spectrum as the installed base of 802.11b clients. The 802.11g standard is expected to be approved in March 2003.

When the dual-band chipset comes out late in the quarter, it may include 802.11g support as well.

"If the 'g' standard isn't ratified when we're ready to go with an a/b solution, we will introduce an a/b solution," Potts said. Asked whether that means Intel will include 802.11g if the technology is ready at that time, Potts said he could not confirm such a plan but that it would make sense.

Intel has reached an agreement with iPass to allow users of Banias-based notebooks to access the Internet through the same software whether they are using "hot spots" or dial-up.


Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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