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Issue #2003 - 15 (May 2003)
(Updated May 8, 2003)


WiFi News This Week

1. Wi-Fi Alliance certifies first WPA-compliant products
Wi-Fi has made impressive gains but has not been able to shake persistent concerns about the security of 802.11-based products. The Wi-Fi Alliance stepped-up efforts to address these concerns, and the organization this week announced the certification of several products complying with upgraded security specifications. The IEEE has been working for a while now on developing the 802.11i to replace the humble WEP standard, but work on the new standard will not be completed for another year or so. The upgraded standard -- Wi-Fi Protected Access, or WPA -- is an interim measure which will be folded into the future 802.11i standard.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has certified the 802.11b components of the following products for WPA interoperability:

  • Atheros AR5001X+ 802.11a/b/g CardBus Reference Design Board 
  • Atheros AR5001AP 802.11a/b/g Access Point 
  • Broadcom 802.11g Access Point Reference Design 
  • Broadcom 802.11g CardBus Reference Design 
  • Cisco Access Point AIR 
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 LAN 3B Mini-PCI Adapter 
  • Intersil PRISM 2.5 Reference Design PCMCIA Card ISL37300P 
  • Intersil PRISM Access Point Development Kit ISL36356A 
  • Symbol Wireless Networker CompactFlash Wireless LAN Adapter Model LA-4137

2. Nearly 700 products Wi-Fi certified
The Wi-Fi Alliance announced today that 677 products from 113 companies have received Wi-Fi certification since testing began in March 2000. Dennis Eaton, the Alliance’s chairman, said that “Both the rate and scope of certification continues to increase.” Currently, the Alliance is using four laboratories around the world (San Jose, California; Taipei; Tokyo; and Winnersh, U.K.;) to certify almost 40 new 802.11a and 802.11b products per month. The alliance has just begun to certify Wi-Fi Protected Access products (see story #1 above), and in the near future it will begin to certify 802.11g products. There are currently 10 802.11a-only products certified and 18 dual-band 802.11a/b products certified. There are also five dual band certifications for mPCI modules -- Wi-Fi modules that go inside laptops -- indicating a trend toward embedding dual band technology into laptops.

Compact flash cards, which did not exist two years ago, now represent 5 percent of certifications in the past year. Eaton said that there was also a change in the mix of client products being certified. “We have seen the number of PC Card certifications drop from 54 percent to 37 percent as a percent of total certificates, and the number of mPCI certifications rise from 4 percent to 13 percent during the past two years. The reduction in PC card certifications is the result of more products being shipped with Wi-Fi built into them. This trend is expected to be even more dramatic two years from now.”

3. 2. South Korea leads world in Wi-Fi
South Korea leads the world in high-speed wireless phone connections and interactive online computer game players. It also leads the world with the highest proportion of fixed-line broadband subscribers -- 10.7 million households, or 70 percent of the total population of 48 million people. It is now becoming clear that South Korea is also leading the world in setting up 802.11 hot spots. In the last year and a half, KT Corp. (KTC ), South Korea's former phone monopoly and the country’s leading broadband and Wi-Fi company, has set up 8,500 commercial WLANs, or hot spots, which is more than half the world's total, according to research firm IDC. Thousands of universities, hotels, restaurants, and other public venues now feature 802.11 transmitters. Earlier this year, the company said it would invest $100 million to expand the number of LANs to 16,000. "Korea has already been a test market for fixed-line broadband services and high-speed wireless-data communications," says Kim Yoo Jeong, researcher at the National Computerization Agency. "The nationwide Wi-Fi network will make it an ideal test bed for all sorts of telecom devices." It is already happening: a local company is now testing a personal digital device that would switch from Wi-Fi to 3G, depending on where the user was located.

Wi-Fi is growing fast in South Korea because it is piggybacking on broadband. Some 112,000 of KT's fixed-line broadband subscribers have signed up for Wi-Fi, which costs $8.30 a month extra. A stand-alone Wi-Fi subscription costs $21 monthly (cheaper than in the U.S. and much cheaper than Europe).* KT expects the number of users to increase from the current 157,000 to more than 1 million by the end of this year. Wi-Fi revenues for the year will reach $125 million. IDC analysts also say that because Wi-Fi technology is less expensive to install than 3G networks, Wi-Fi operators can expect a quicker financial return. "I think KT's Wi-Fi business could break even in a couple of years," says a telecom analyst at IDC Korea, "when there will be a hot spot within a few minutes' walk in most urban areas." (To read more about South Korea's Wi-Fi lead, see BusinessWeek's cover story on Wi-Fi, on which the report above is based; see also "Recommended Reading" below.)

Source - Several, including TechWeb, 802.11 planet and Fierce 80211

MobileInfo Comments and Advisory: Certification of WPA-compliance by Wi-Fi alliance will help in allaying enterprise users' fears of lack of security in WLAN infrastructure.  The real solution of 802.11i will have to wait ratification and then vendor compliance. We recommend that in selecting a WLAN security gateway vendor, you should ask in writing, vendor's commitment to the new IEEE standard. 

 Note: This news release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and section 21E of Securities Exchange act of 1934 in USA. Similar provisions exist in other countries. There is no assurance that the stipulated plans of vendors will be implemented. MobileInfo does not warrant the authenticity of the information. Readers should take appropriate caution in developing plans utilizing these products, services and technology architectures.  All trademarks used in this summary are the property of their respective owners.

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