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Intel sticks with 802.11b for Banias mobile chip

Processor giant to hold off on dual-band WLAN

Intel will not release a dual-band 802.11a/b WLAN (wireless local area network) chipset for its notebook processor until late in the first half of 2003. Instead it will release a single-band 802.11b chipset for the Banias processor early in the first half of next year.

It is holding off on releasing a dual-band WLAN chipset, because it "wants to ensure that when it is introduced customers get the performance, reliability and capacity that people expect from Intel", according to Intel UK PR manager Graham Palmer.

The company says this new gameplan doesn't contradict its original stated intention to ship Banias with dual-band support in the first half of 2003.

"What has changed is that we have now made a decision to ship the first Banias technology with 'b' enabled only," Intel spokesperson, Tom Potts, said.

Intel is releasing the Banias microprocessor along with a module containing the Banias and WLAN chips as well as other components, codenamed Calexico. Calexico will initially support only lower-speed 802.11b wireless access.

The 802.11b standard describes a technology that uses radio spectrum in the range of 2.4GHz and has a maximum carrying capacity of 11Mbps (megabits per second). The more recently completed 802.11a standard uses spectrum in the range of 5GHz and offers a maximum capacity of 54Mbps.

An 802.11g standard, now nearing approval, would provide for a capacity of 54Mbps using the 2.4GHz band, allowing for high-speed wireless LAN gear that uses the same spectrum as the installed base of 802.11b clients. The 802.11g standard is expected to be approved in March 2003.

When the dual-band chipset comes out late in the quarter, it may include 802.11g support as well.

"If the 'g' standard isn't ratified when we're ready to go with an a/b solution, we will introduce an a/b solution," Potts said. Asked whether that means Intel will include 802.11g if the technology is ready at that time, Potts said he could not confirm such a plan, but that it would make sense.

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