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Roaming wirelessly: A look at the Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology wireless connectivity
Published on Wednesday, 2nd July, 2003

Roaming wirelessly: A look at the Centrino Mobile Technology wireless connectivity

In this article, we'll talk about the networking capabilities of the Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology, which is essentially the PRO/Wireless 2100 network based on the 802.11b wireless networking standard.

You may be wondering why Intel has decided to go with the 802.11b standard and not 11a or the new 11g specifications of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11 architecture. To answer that, we have to first explore each of the specifications briefly.

The relatively new 802.11a is an extension of the original 802.11 standard that uses the 5GHz band with Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), and provides up to 54Mbps transmission rate. The advantages of this standard is that it operates in the 5GHz range where it is less crowded and provides up to eight non-overlapping frequency channels.

The most common standard among the three, the 802.11b allows transmission of up to 11Mbps in the 2.4GHz frequency band and allows the transmission rate to fall back to 5.5, 2 and even 1 Mbps, which is pretty similar to the wired Ethernet.

The newest kid on the block, the 802.11g standard provides a transmission rate of up to 54Mbps in the 2.4GHz band. Since the 802.11g utilize the same band as the 802.11b, this makes it backward compatible with networking products based on the latter standard.

Now it would seem that the 802.11g would be an obvious choice for Intel to adopt in the Centrino Mobile Technology platform. But setbacks such as interoperability issues with the 11b standard have prevented *Wi-Fi from certifying 802.11g. What about 802.11a? Well the 11a may sport a faster transmission rate, but costing and its limited-range (as compared to 11b and 11g) have hampered an early embrace by both vendors and consumers.

So for now it's obvious why Intel had decided to go down the 11b route, since it offers the best all-round performance and stability. But that's not the end. Intel has already announced dual-band 802.11a/b networking connectivity for Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology in the later half of this year. This can only be good news for Centrino notebook users. And once 802.11g is ready, you can be sure that this standard will be made available for Centrino as well.

* The Wi-Fi Alliance is a nonprofit international association formed in 1999 to certify interoperability of wireless Local Area Network products based on IEEE 802.11 specification. Currently the Wi-Fi Alliance has 207 member companies from around the world, and 611 products have received Wi-Fi® certification since certification began in March of 2000. The goal of the Wi-Fi Alliance's members is to enhance the user experience through product interoperability.

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