TI Gets on Board

By Eric Griffith

October 11, 2002

The Wi-Fi Alliance has added Texas Instruments as the twelfth member of the group's board, in the same week TI's reference designs become Wi-Fi Certified.

The Wi-Fi Alliance (formerly the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance, or WECA), the non-profit organization behind the testing and certification for interoperability of 802.11-based networking products, today announced, has added chipset maker Texas Instruments (TI) to the board of directors.

TI will now be part of the small group of wireless LAN vendors that helps define the direction the Wi-Fi Alliance will take. Other board members include Agere, Cisco, Dell, Intel, Intermec, Intersil, Microsoft, Nokia, Philips, Symbol, and Sony, who was added this past summer.

"There's sponsor members and general members," says Bill Carney, Business Development Director of Wireless Networking at TI, who will be representing the company on the Wi-Fi Alliance board.

"We've been general members for some time. We made an application to the existing board of eleven companies that we wanted to move up to sponsorship level, which is a greater financial commitment and a board seat."

Carney says that TI brings a new set of skills to the board, with an expertise in wireless products beyond "products that don't look like PCs".

"Our experience is in the mobile terminal category... [the] handset industry," says Carney. "I'd say our largest category for Wi-Fi adoption is still the PC, but that's not the only segment that will adopt it. We have a unique advantage [when it's time] to drop them into PDAs and cell phone devices. We want to extend our territory."

Carney won't be alone from TI, as most companies send a couple of attendees to all Wi-Fi Alliance meetings each quarter, one for the technical stuff, another for the marketing side.

In addition, TI received full Wi-FI Certification for its PC Card and access point reference designs based on the ACX100 chipset. The ACX100 is the chip that supports the so-called 802.11b+, a version of 2.4GHz 802.11b wireless network that uses PBCC modulation to get a throughput of up to 22Mbps Traditional 802.11b uses direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) modulation and only gets 11Mbps speed.

TI also has miniPCI and Universal Serial Bus (USB) reference designs, but has not submitted them to the Wi-Fi Alliance for testing yet. Carney says they have not yet determined whether to submit them with the ACX100 chip, or the TNETW1100B embedded 802.11b chip announced last month.

"We'll have 1100b chips in volume by the end of the year, [but we'll] support ACX100 customers for production life," says Carney.

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

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