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FCC Eyes 54Mbps Wireless Spec

WASHINGTON — The FCC has proposed a rules change that would accelerate the data rate of the wireless IEEE 802.11b HR standard to 54Mbps from 11Mbps, according to the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA).

WECA promotes 802.11b HR and certified interoperability of 802.11b HR products.

The group said 54Mbps products could be available as soon as the first or second quarters of next year, if the FCC adopts the rule later this year and an IEEE group, as expected, finalizes the upgraded 54Mbps spec.

Ratification of the spec had previously been targeted for the end of 2000.

The 54Mbps spec, called 802.11g, was previously known as 802.11b HRb. It will be backward compatible with 802.11b HR and, like 802.11b, operate in the unlicensed 2.4GHz band.

The proposed spec is separate from another 54Mbps spec called 802.11a, which operates in the 5GHz band.

In the 2.4GHz band, FCC rules currently limit the spectrum’s use to spread-spectrum technologies, but the rules change would allow for other modulation techniques with characteristics similar to spread spectrum, WECA said.

One of those modulation techniques is Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, which IEEE proposes to use in the 802.11g spec. Final ratification of 802.11g is expected in about two months.