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HP Hangs Fire on 802.11g

Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) was one of the few companies that didn't bring out wireless LAN products based on 802.11g (54-Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) before the specification was ratified last month and is now saying that it plans to wait for interoperability tests by the Wi-Fi Alliance to be completed before it brings out products.

The Wi-Fi Alliance trade body has been instrumental in ensuring that products based on the previous versions of the 802.11 spec play nicely together. Vendors submit access points, wireless LAN cards, and other devices to the body, which tests them and then slaps a natty little sticker on them if everything works fine.

Kail Krall, mobility solutions manager for the HP ProCurve group, thinks that this process will be more crucial than ever with the 802.11g specification because of potential problems over backwards compatibility with the 802.11b specification (11-Mbit/s over 2.4GHz).(See Interop Woes Smite 802.11g for more on this thorny issue.)

"I do have some reservations," says Krall. He says there is "room for interpretation" in the g specification and that this could lead to problems when using b and g standards together. "The fear or worst-case scenario… is that you run the risk that devices will fail to associate properly or function in a mixed environment," Krall says.

Interoperability testing should uncover any of these problems and allow vendors to fix them.

Therefore, Krall says he's waiting for HP's products to get the final stamp of approval from the Wi-Fi Alliance before shipping them. "That's the final milestone in my opinion," he says.

Krall expects to ship 802.11g products in the fall.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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