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Wi-Fi Alliance: Noncertified wireless products have high failure rates

And a quarter of the products submitted for certification fail the first time around

By Bob Brewin
January 13, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Wireless LAN products that don't go through a Wi-Fi Alliance certification process have "catastrophic" failure rates, according to Brian Grimm, a spokesman for the industry-backed group.
Products submitted to the alliance for certification testing also have a high failure rate on the first round, with more than a quarter of them failing to perform as expected in their first tests, Frank Hanzlik, managing director of the Mountain View, Calif.-based Wi-Fi Alliance, said in a statement. "Products that do not go through the rigorous testing preparation process have an even higher failure rate," he said.
A limited sampling of noncertified Wi-Fi products purchased by the organization found hardware that fails to automatically switch from the 802.11b mode, which supports a raw data rate of 11Mbit/sec., to 802.11g, which has a raw data rate of 54Mbit/sec., and other core functions. Grimm didn't identify the noncertified predicts the Wi-Fi Alliance sampled for its tests.
He said products submitted for certification are sometimes found to have interoperability or compatibility problems. But these can be fixed after the hardware is sent back to the manufacturer "for tweaking" and then submitted for a new round of certification tests, Grimm added. As of last Friday, the Wi-Fi Alliance had certified 1,000 Wi-Fi products.
Lynn Lucas, director of product marketing at Proxim Corp. in Sunnyvale, Calif., which manufactures enterprise-class Wi-Fi access points, said it hadn't received reports of incompatibility problems with Wi-Fi-certified products from its customers. But, Lucas said, the company is aware of problems with noncertified Wi-Fi access cards operating on university or college campus WLAN networks.
David Cohen, senior product marketing manager at Broadcom Corp., a Wi-Fi chip manufacturer in Irvine, Calif., said he believes it's "absolutely critical" for vendors to obtain Wi-Fi certification for their hardware.
Cohen said vendors such as Dell Inc. and the Links Group Inc. subsidiary of Cisco Systems Inc., which use Broadcom Wi-Fi chips, devote "significant resources" to the Wi-Fi certification process to ensure compatibility and interoperability. Since Wi-Fi is built on complex and sophisticated radio technology, users should always buy products with the "Wi-Fi Certified" logo, he said.

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