Just as the HomeRF standard for wireless networking was preparing a major upgrade, chipmaker Intel switched its allegiance and will manufacture its networking products to the Wi-Fi standard, a.k.a. 802.11b. Intel uses Wi-Fi as its corporate standard and previously used HomeRF as the home standard.

The home wireless networking market is expected to reach $7.1 billion by 2005, according to analysts. Observers say the switch is a blow to HomeRF, which was preparing a major upgrade that would bring its communication speeds up to Wi-Fi level. HomeRF products are expected to reach speeds up to 10 Mbps over its present 1.6 Mbps. Wi-Fi works at 11 Mbps.

The move comes as Wi-Fi's costs have dropped significantly, Reuters reports, making it more affordable for consumers.