NetGear, SMC Gear Up For 802.11g

NetGear and SMC Networks each said on Tuesday that they plan to ship 802.11g-compliant products next month. D-Link, another networking vendor, said at the Consumer Electronics Show that it also expects to ship a similar line by the end of March.

NetGear, Santa Clara, Calif., said it plans to ship a series of dual-standard products based on 802.11a (which operates at up to 54 Mbps but on a different frequency than 802.11g) and the draft standard of 802.11g. Since 802.11b and 802.11g are compatible, the products would support all three of the 802.11 standards: 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g.

NetGear plans to ship two separate lines, one focused on SMB customers and the other on SOHO/consumers.

First out in March will be a dual-band PC Card, expected to carry a street price of $129.

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A broadband router for the SOHO/consumer market will be released shortly after, said Lianne Caetano, product line manager for wireless business product.

Toward the end of the second quarter, the company also plans to release a business-class router and access point. These products will include advanced features such as Wireless Distribution System (WDS) bridging support, LAN management tools, detachable antennas and power-over-Ethernet capabilities, she said.

"Our strategy is to offer Proxim-level features and really offer them at much better price for the SMB customer," Caetano said.

The dual-band products are based on an AR5001X WLAN chipset from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Aetheros Communications, NetGear said.

SMC, meanwhile, plans to ship an 802.11g-compliant broadband router, PCI card and PC Card. Pricing was not available. SMC executives said the Irvine, Calif.-based company will use the PRISM GT chipset from Intersil, Milpitas, Calif.

The 802.11g standard, currently in development by the IEEE technical association, provides up to 54 Mbps throughput over a frequency compatible with the popular 802.11b products currently on the market. The IEEE has issued a draft standard for 802.11g and is expected to ratify a final version of the standard in June.

Products that are released before the final version of the standard is approved are generally know as 802.11g-compliant. Vendors manufacturing these devices expect to offer customers a software upgrade to make the products compatible with the final standard, once it is released. However, some vendors also warn that if the standard changes significantly when it is released in its final version, products may not be upgradable.

Irvine, Calif.-based Linksys and Austin, Texas-based Buffalo Technologies currently are shipping 802.11g compliant products. Enterprise-focused companies such as Cisco Systems have said they plan to wait until the 802.11g standard is completed before releasing product.

The Wi-Fi Alliance said it also will wait for the final 802.11g standard. The industry group, which tests compatibility of different wireless standards, said it will begin testing 802.11g-based products only after the final standard is released.