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FCC Ruling Puts Wireless Home Networking Up For Grabs.

In a decision expected to have far-reaching consequences for the burgeoning home networking market, the FCC ruled in late August that HomeRF OEMs can increase device throughput speeds five-fold, from 2Mbps to 10Mbps. The ruling was a resounding defeat for wireless Ethernet OEMs.

Technology companies on both sides of the issue had been lobbying furiously in recent months, with HomeRF Working Group supporters (led by Intel, Motorola, and Proxim) squaring off against members of the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (including Lucent and Apple) who support the 802.11B specification. WECA companies thus far have enjoyed a significant throughput advantage for their products, with wireless Ethernet devices offering speeds of up to 11Mbps.

WECA had claimed that allowing HomeRF devices to operate in the 2450MHz (2.4GHz) band would cause interference among overlapping frequency hopping systems. The FCC rejected this argument and gave the go-ahead to HomeRF to increase speeds. In its report, the FCC said, in part, "We believe it is appropriate to adopt rules that represent a reasonable engineering compromise between the risks of increased interference and the desire to accommodate new technologies."

What are the consequences likely to be? First, we will see many more devices from many more manufacturers aimed at home and small office users. (Cahners In-Stat Group predicts that the home networking market will grow from $600 million in 2000 to $5.7 billion by 2004.) Many of these new devices will be in the form of PC Cards for wireless connectivity. But chipsets for both HomeRF and 802.11B will likely find their way into any number of devices (PDAs, cameras, and so on) that a user might want to add to a home network. Other devices such as Internet radios and digital A/V players will likely incorporate wireless networking chips, allowing them to be accessed from anywhere and updated via the Internet. Prices are likely to fall, although existing products are already priced competitively.
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Title Annotation:Government Activity
Author:Piven, Joshua
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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