Apple pins colours firmly to 802.11g mast


13 Feb 2003

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A defiant Apple Computer says it intends to ignore the general movement of the computer industry towards the 802.11a wireless standard and will instead push for the more flexible and secure 802.11g standard, a company spokesman told siliconrepublic.com.

Last month at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Apple revealed the AirPort Extreme wireless networking technology (pictured) based on the 802.11g standard. At speeds of up to 54 megabits per second, Airport Extreme is five times faster than the existing 802.11b wireless networking technology currently being rolled out at hotspots across America and Europe. Starting at prices of only US$199, the new Airport Extreme base stations can support up to 50 wireless users simultaneously.

An Apple spokesman told siliconrepublic.com that unlike the 802.11a standard soon to be de facto amongst the computer community, the 802.11g standard that Apple is backing can be used on the existing 802.11b wireless networks, which means that users of ‘b’ and ‘g’ technologies can future-proof their investments.

“If you look at the difference between the ‘a’ and ‘g’ standards, pretty much every benefit in terms of speed and security is with ‘g’. There are a lot of 802.11b networks out there and ‘g’ is compatible with them. When the industry tries to start pushing ‘a’, I don’t think too many owners of 802.11b networks will rush to upgrade,” said Liam Donohoe, general manager of Apple Ireland. “The ‘a’ standard works at a different bandwidth at 5GHz, whilst ‘g’ works at the same bandwidth as ‘a’ at 2.5GHz.

“The other key advantage of using 802.11g in notebook computers is that it has a less draining influence on battery power than 802.11a and ‘g’ maintains higher speeds for longer,” Donohoe explained.

As well as revealing the AirPort Extreme base stations, in January Apple introduced a range of 12-inch and 17-inch PowerBook computers with built in 802.11g antenna, and in recent days the company has started to ship 802.11g data cards for existing Apple computers.

By John Kennedy