November 19, 2002 5:09 PM PST

Speedy Wi-Fi alternative nears shelves

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The first of what may become an avalanche of products based on the 802.11g wireless-networking standard will hit the market early next month as gear maker Linksys releases its line of "Instant Wireless-G" devices.

The Irvine, Calif.-based company said Tuesday that early December would see the introduction of the home and office gear, which includes PC cards for laptops, at $80; access points, or radio transmitters, for $140 each; and a router, priced at $150.

The Instant Wireless-G products are likely the first of many wireless networking devices to use the 802.11g standard, which allows for 54mbps Web access as opposed to the 11mbps access available on popular 802.11b, or Wi-Fi, networks. The Instant Wireless-G gear is compatible with any of the 6 million to 8 million Wi-Fi networks now in operation. In-Stat/MDR researchers have said that by 2005, more than 55 million Wi-Fi-based wireless networks will be in homes and offices.

Other companies announcing plans to release 802.11g products include Intersil and chipmaker Atheros Communications.

Linksys intends to sell its 802.11g products even before the standard is approved, a dicey move considering that pieces of the standard could be changed during last minute ratification fights.

The equipment also includes a new interim security standard, called Wi-Fi Protected Access.

Both the security standard and 802.11g are expected to be approved by mid- to late 2003.


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