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Apple charges 'nominal' fee to activate 802.11n

Enabler software needed to use Wi-Fi standard

Because of accounting rules, Mac users with 802.11n-capable hardware who want to take advantage of the wireless technology will have to pay $1.99 for enabler software that activates 802.11n wireless networking.

Last week during Macworld Expo, Apple introduced a new AirPort Extreme wireless networking base station that supports faster networking; the device includes a software application that enables some newer Macs to support the faster networking standard.

This enabler software updates most Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel Xeon-equipped Macs so that they support the draft specification of the IEEE 802.11n wireless networking standard, which supports speeds up to five times faster and distances up to twice as long, compared to the current 802.11g standard.

While the enabler software comes with the $179 AirPort Extreme Base Station, Mac users with other 802.11n-capable routers who want to enable the new wireless networking standard on their Macs can download the software from Apple for what the company is calling "a nominal fee" of $1.99.

"The nominal distribution fee for the 802.11n software is required in order for Apple to comply with generally accepted accounting principles for revenue recognition, which generally require that we charge for significant feature enhancements, such as 802.11n, when added to previously purchased products," said Teresa Brewer, Apple's Mac hardware public relations manager.

Apple plans to eventually include the 802.11n software with all new Macs that contain the appropriate hardware, Brewer added.

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