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The power to communicate

Meeting the power requirements of IEEE802.11 communications. By Frank Li and Walter Lau.

Wireless local area networks (wlans) have come a long way since the IEEE802.11 standard was officially adopted in 1997. Since then, the maximum data rate has risen to the current 11Mbit/s. Data transmission rates will rise to 22Mbit/s in the short term future and may reach 54Mbit/s at 5GHz.

With a range of vendors offering IEEE802.11b compliant wlan cards and with interoperability established among them, the price of a 2.4GHz IEEE802.11 wlan pc card is projected to head towards $50 by 2002. This will make wireless communications even more attractive and several market research firms predict the wlan market will exceed $2billion in annual revenue by 2003. These forecasts are likely to be revised upward as wireless lan uptake continues to expand rapidly in offices, homes and public places. Home networking is also expected to play a major role in driving up demand for wlan cards.

Whilst most wlan applications have been in the office – linking pcs and peripherals – there is a move towards incorporating wlan capability in portable devices. However, designing wlan functionality in portable products means size becomes an important consideration.

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Graham Pitcher

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