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Thu Apr 18 01:45:38 EST 2002

USRWe have the new antennas for that. Take a look here for products and price.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Clinton Jones 
  Cc: Wireless ML 
  Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 3:31 AM
  Subject: USR

  S. Robotics Doubles Wi-Fi Speeds 
  Wireless LAN products hit 22 mbps, retain backward compatibility with other 802.11b devices. 

  Peter Sayer, IDG News Service 
  Tuesday, April 16, 2002 

  U.S. Robotics (USR) has boosted the speed of its latest range of wireless LAN products for small businesses to 22 megabits per second, while retaining compatibility with existing 2.4-GHz systems built to the IEEE 802.11b standard, the company has announced. 

  USR's 22-mbps products will all be available in June, the company said. The 22-mbps Wireless Access Point will have a suggested retail price of $200; the 22-mbps Wireless Access PC Card, $100; and the 22-mbps Wireless Access PCI Adapter Card, $120. 

  That's a premium of about $20 over the 11-mbps cards already on the market, acknowledges Juan Lopez, USR's networking product line manager. In some cases, the price is the same for an 11-mbps card, but "you're not only getting faster speed, you're getting a stronger radio, better range," he said.

  Old Gear Still Usable 
  Although a faster alternative, the 54-mbps IEEE 802.11a (also called Wi-Fi5), has been on the market for over a month, systems based on that standard are not backward-compatible because they operate in a different frequency band, 5 GHz, Lopez said. Another competitor, HomeRF, boasts approximately the same speed as earlier 802.11b products.

  But USR's 22-mbps products--a wireless access point or base station, a PC Card, and a PCI adapter--are fully backward-compatible with existing 802.11b wireless LAN (WLAN) systems, Lopez said. That means that the new products can communicate with one another at 22 mbps, and can slow down to 11 mbps to communicate with older products. 

  This backward compatibility with other 2.4-GHz equipment is important, as many of the service providers offering WLAN coverage in public places such as airports and hotels are already using 802.11b systems. 

  Older gear can still benefit from some of the other performance improvements offered by the new range. Thanks to a more powerful radio and some other tweaks, the new products offer 30 percent greater linear range, or about 70 percent better area coverage, than existing systems, Lopez said. 

  The three new products use the ACX100 chip from Texas Instruments. In addition to meeting the existing standard, the chip also supports a new modulation scheme developed by TI, called packet binary convolutional code (PBCC). It's this scheme that gives the products the extra kick: Even at lower speeds, PBCC provides better performance at greater distances, and it can also work at 22 mbps.

  USR doesn't expect to be alone for long in using the ACX100 chip. 

  "I suspect you will see more 22-mbps products launched as a result of our announcement," Lopez said. Other announcements could appear in a matter of weeks, he said.

  For now, TI is the only supporter of the 22-mbps PBCC-22 technology, which it had hoped to get adopted into yet another high-speed WLAN standard under discussion at the IEEE, 802.11g. However, the standards committee voted to use a rival modulation scheme proposed by Intersil, orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), according to TI and Intersil. TI's PBCC-22 remains as an optional part of the still-unfinished standard, which means products will not have to support it. 

  Interoperability Expected 
  Although no finished standard exists for the 22-mbps WLANs, Lopez is confident that USR's systems will interoperate with those of its competitors when they arrive on the market.

  "They will all talk to each other at 22 mbps and at all downshift speeds, since they all use the TI ACX100 chip set," he said. 

  The market would probably appreciate that. One of the driving forces of interoperability in wireless networking, the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA), won't be testing equipment using the new devices for compatibility at the higher speed, according to spokesperson Brian Grimm. 

  WECA typically sets a minimum bar of two chip-set providers and four implementations before it will test any technology enhancements that come to market, he said. 

  WLANs conforming to the proposed 802.11g will run at up to 54 mbps, just like 802.11a--but unlike 802.11a, they will be backward-compatible with existing products, because 802.11g uses the same 2.4-GHz frequency band as 802.11b.

  TI has said that when it begins offering 54-mbps 802.11g devices around the middle of this year, they will also support its PBCC-22 modulation scheme. 

  That means, according to Lopez, that USR's 22-mbps products will be able to operate with its future 802.11g products at 22 mbps, and both will be able to operate with all existing 802.11b products at 11 mbps.

  The average home user will scarcely notice the difference, as cable or DSL connections typically max out at 1 mbps or 2 mbps. However, in crowded offices or conference theaters where dozens of users are trying to connect over the same wireless base station, the benefits of the newer WLAN technologies will really be felt. 

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