802.11x extends market reach
With the Bluetooth wireless protocol failing to live up to expectations in the wireless networking world, competing wireless technologies on the 802.11x platform continue their rapid growth into new markets across the globe.
In April, Royal Philips Electronics announced the first 802.11a WLAN solution to receive the CE Mark for the European Union market. The new Philips 802.11a (WiFi5) PC Card, powered by a chipset from Atheros Communications, operates in the clear 5 GHz frequency band, and can enable higher bandwidth, conflict-free communications even in environments full of wireless devices. The Philips 802.11a solution is the first product of its kind to receive the industry mark.
Regulators in the U.K. also cut a deal with WLAN gear maker Intel Corp., allowing the company to sell its 802.11a fast wireless LAN equipment in the U.K. despite a lack of approval from European regulator ETSI. Full European approval of 802.11a technologies has suffered delays because of conflicts in the 5 GHz frequency range with military and satellite networks across Europe.
On the chip front: newer, faster, smaller and cheaper reference designs for 802.11a chips are finding their way to the market. This month, newcomer Bermai Inc. is releasing a super-integrated 802.11a OFDM-based chip design. With a reduced bill of materials, lower power consumption, and a smaller, more integrated design, the Bermai 802.11a single-chip system will be tested in various CE applications over the next year. Of note in the Bermai design is a "plug-in" interface to include combination connectivity with current 802.11b and future 802.11g solutions. Currently, 802.11a designs aren't backward-compatible with deployed 802.11b products, but the Bermai solution would allow for a CE device with combination 802.11a and 802.11b embedded platforms.