Intel teams with Linksys for wireless interoperability

Intel and Linksys Monday said they would collaborate on testing and product development that would ease the user experience for small business customers that install wireless


Linksys, which is part of Cisco Systems Inc., said it already has access point products on the shelves this week bearing the “”Verified with Intel Centrino Mobile Technology”” logo on its packaging. The next phase will involve joint engineering work between the two firms to develop technologies that will allow Centrino-based notebooks to more easily detect, synchronize and connect with Linksys products with minimal effort from the user. Intel launched Centrino, its first chip designed specifically to take advantage of emerging wireless products, in March.

Charlie Giancarlo, Cisco’s vice-president and general manager of product development, said the expansion of wireless technology from the enterprise to the small and home office would usher in a host of new networking applications, including broadband remote access.

“”Even small businesses have executives who are home at night and would like to be able to log into their e-mail,”” he said. “”It will give them VPNs between offices as well, but also the smooth integration of wireless between small offices.””

Linksys competes with vendors like D-Link, but Anand Chandrasekher, vice-president of Intel’s mobile platforms group, said the deal was not necessarily exclusive.

“”The end goal is to have as many access points available as possible,”” he said. “”For the majority of the marketplace, we believe this agreement will achieve the goals.””

Traditionally, much of the interoperability at the network protocol level has been defined by the WiFi Alliance, which oversees the development of standards like 802.11. At the recent Networld + Interop trade show in Las Vegas, for example, the WiFi Alliance launched WiFi Protected Access (WPA), a software upgrade to existing 802.11 products. It is a subset of the 802.11i standard, which has not been finalized.

Giancarlo said the agreement with Intel is more focused on easing the installation process. The “”Verified with Centrino”” products, for example, will offer users faster connection speeds, better distance and range and easier configuration for security, he promised.

“”Nothing we’re doing is to challenge the WiFi Alliance and the work they’re doing,”” he said. “”This is focused on a lot of the experience that the WiFi Alliance and other standards bodies aren’t focused on.””

Chandrasekher agreed. “”They test to the spec. We go beyond the spec,”” he said. “”We’re essentially testing interoperability between the notebooks configured with our technology and obviously the Linksys routers. We also have a whole bunch of middleware and application-level environments, and we’re testing for robustness across all of these.””

Chandrasekher said the joint engineering work to ease the auto-configuration process would be launched in 2004.

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