Intel to aid in wireless deployments

In a lab in Chantilly, Va., Intel Corp. engineers are testing compatibility and interoperability of wireless networking products to help integrators and agencies cut through the confusion surrounding Wi-Fi adoption.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company's Secure WLAN Infrastructure for Government initiative is in direct response to requests from the government IT market, Intel officials told Washington Technology.

"We're not doing this for any reason other than it's required by our customers. They're asking for it," said Kevin Quinn of Intel's federal sector marketing group. He said the company has had to accelerate its testing to keep up with agency interest.

The problem Intel is trying to address is agencies' confusion over the products required to deploy a wireless network that meets government security standards, Quinn said.

As part of its testing, Intel will categorize wireless products and map them against government-specific security issues. The goal is to come up with multivendor solutions that meet FIPS 140-2 as well as agency-specific security requirements.

As part of the process, Intel will validate its solutions with government agencies. It will then publish its findings on a Web site so integrators and agencies can access them. The Web site is scheduled to launch in the coming weeks, Quinn said.

Despite positioning the microprocessor giant as a "trusted third party" in the wireless market, Quinn admitted the company wouldn't be testing for compatibility with competitive computing platforms, such as mobile chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Intel's Centrino mobile technology platform includes a wireless radio.

In addition, Intel's testing will be separate from the work of the Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry group seeking to ensure compatibility of commercial Wi-Fi products. Intel is a member of the alliance.

"Government is still very confused" despite the work of the Wi-Fi Alliance, said Alfred Toussaint, Intel's federal marketing manager. "Whether or not our work is duplicative, there is still a need for it."

Intel's testing will focus on government security requirements, whereas the Wi-Fi Alliance works on broader standards, Quinn said.

Looking ahead, Quinn said Intel was preparing new initiatives to help local governments build wireless metropolitan networks based on 802.11 and future WiMax standards. WiMax, also known as the 802.16 standard, promises to deliver up to 70Mbps over a range of up to 30 miles.

An Intel spokesperson said Intel hoped to roll out its current Centrino mobile technology platform with integrated WiMax capability in late 2005 or early 2006.

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