Intel to unveil ¿next big thing' in wireless

Intel Corp. plans to unveil its push into what it called the "next big thing" in wireless networking at a news conference set for 1 p.m. EDT today. Analysts said Intel would be detailing its plans to incorporate the IEEE 802.16 wireless metropolitan-area network (MAN) standards into its evolving wireless road map.

Tom Potts, an Intel spokesman, said the news conference would focus on development of a wireless standard that would provide coverage over an area of 30 miles, compared with the 300-foot range of the 802.11b wireless LANs now in common use.

Craig Mathias, an analyst at Farpoint Group in Ashland, Mass., said he had been briefed by Intel and confirmed the company's interest in 802.16. "This shows that Intel wants to be a wireless company," he said.

Mathias added that he expects other fixed wireless manufacturers to sign on to the Intel-backed 802.16 effort, including Proxim Corp. in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Flarion Technologies Inc. in Bedminster, N.J.

The New York-based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. started work on the 802.16 standard in July 1999 and initially focused its development efforts in the high end of the frequency spectrum. Last month, the IEEE added the 2 to-11-GHz bands to the 802.16 standard. WLANs operate within this spectrum in the 2.4- and 5-GHz bands.

It isn't clear whether the 802.16-based networks will be compatible with wireless networks using the 802.11a, 802.11b or 802.11g wireless networking protocols.

Mathias said he expects Intel to focus on using 802.16 to serve as an alternative to wired high-speed connections for homes or enterprises, such as Digital Subscriber Line or cable. But, Mathias said, he also expects the company to capitalize on the work done by the IEEE's 802.16e subgroup, which is developing a mobile version of the standard. That could eventually compete with 802.11 WLANs, he said.

Mathias went on to say that since 802.16 is a standard, it will "blow away" other MAN products and systems.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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