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Home > Business > Special

Meet the man on a Wi-Fi mission

Leslie D'Monte in Mumbai | February 02, 2007

It's the Year of Broadband in India and Frank Hanzlik, MD of the Wi-Fi Alliance, wants Wi-Fi to rise above the din created by WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) and 3G and get its due place with the new 802.11n standard that quadruples the speed of this wireless technology.

"Wi-Fi abounds on unlicensed spectrum (unlike3G and 4G, called WiMax, that currently has no unlicensed spectrum), hence you find it in hotels, cars, airports and in your PCs and laptops," asserts Hanzlik.

Second, "most Wi-Fi products are certified. This means they have passed rigorous interoperability testing (again unlike WiMax, unless the goods are WiMax-certified)," he says.

Globally, over 200 million Wi-Fi-enabled units were sold in 2006 and the figure is expected to touch a half-billion by 2010.

In India, according to a Wi-Fi Alliance-commissioned study by Tonse Telecom, the total Wi-Fi market is predicted to grow from the current $41.57 million (around Rs 190 crore) to exceed $744 million (around Rs 3,300 crore) by 2012.

The market for converged handsets is expected to exceed 100 million units in 2009, according to ABI Research, and IDC predicts 90 per cent of notebook computers will be Wi-Fi-enabled.

But isn't WiMax simply Wi-Fi on steroids? Hanzlik says this is misleading given that WiMax lacks standards.

The government is yet to allocate spectrum for 3G services, and most WiMax rollouts in India are a mix of WiMax and Wi-Fi - using WiMax to link up to the backbone and Wi-Fi hotspots. Besides, in India we have fixed WiMax; it is when mobile WiMax (802.11e standard) becomes operational that its cause will be furthered.

Since 2000 Wi-Fi capability has improved in speed (from 54 Mbps to nearly 200 Mbps), range, security, multimedia, ease-of-use and power consumption, notes Hanzlik.

The new optional Wi-Fi Protected Setup certification will enable the proliferation of Wi-Fi technology. The first release of the programme supports use of a push-button technique or entry of a personal identification number to network Wi-Fi devices.

"Wi-Fi has quickly become one of the most pervasive wireless technologies, but consumers have told us they want it to be easier to set up and protect," says Hanzlik.

The Setup reduces by half the number of steps required to set up a network, enabling Wi-Fi to be more easily installed across devices.

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