Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Intel: Hazards Ahead For Wi-Fi

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Intel may be one of the driving
forces behind the Wi-Fi craze, but the man who helped fund the chip making giant’s dreams says there are dangers ahead.

“Do we really understand the user’s needs?” said current Intel Board Member Les Vadasz during a keynote address at the Wi-Fi Planet Conference and Expo.

“You people who are involved in designing these
products, I don’t know what you are thinking about,” he said. “Did you design this for the guy in the next cubicle? Grandma doesn’t do SSID . It shouldn’t ever appear on a screen.”

Vadasz knows of what he speaks. As former head of Intel Capital, he spearheaded the Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel’s $150 million investment in wireless startups. Intel’s master plan
includes its Centrino family of chipsets, high-profile advertisements,
partnerships with companies like McDonalds, and an entire day of free
wireless access.

Overall, Vadasz said $1.8 billion is currently invested in
some 250 companies that make Wi-Fi semiconductors, equipment and the like.

Wi-Fi stats are staggering. According to Intel’s own surveys, 50 million people have access to Wi-Fi and can connect to 15 million access points in the United States. The number is even more encouraging on the home front, where 20 percent of home users with broadband connections have set up
Wi-Fi networks.

But beyond consumer confusion that Vadasz mentioned, security concerns continue to be an Achilles’ heel that prevents many companies from jumping into deployments. Some 67 percent of major companies say security problems in Wi-Fi are a big enough problem to heavily restrict its use in its networks, according to Intel.

Vadasz said the evolving wireless industry security standard of 802.11i is long overdue and could help give companies more piece of mind.

“There is a lot of myth here, but there are a lot of truths,” he said. “Current solutions [such as Wi-Fi Protected Access] are difficult and cumbersome. Virtual Private Networks are a reasonable solution but expensive and not widely deployed.”

IEEE standard 802.11i



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