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Wireless group may change 802.11 certification name

The Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) is discussing the possibility of changing the name given to 802.11a wireless networking products that it certifies to be compatible.

WECA, a certification body that counts Apple, Cisco, Ericsson and Intel among its members, tests products that use the 802.11a networking standard to ensure that they work together.

The certification has been called Wi-Fi5, although that could change, according to Dennis Eaton, chairman of WECA. If such a change is made, certified products will probably be called "Wi-Fi Certified," he added.

WECA has been discussing with its members whether to change the name of the certification and will make an announcement in mid-August. Despite the pending announcement, Eaton said that "nothing has been officially revealed yet."

If the name change does occur, it will be because the Wi-Fi5 name is confusing to consumers, he said. WECA conducted a series of focus groups consulting people about the name.

"Almost universally, they interpreted [the name] wrong," Eaton said.

The focus groups thought that Wi-Fi5 indicated the fifth version of a product and that it would be backwards compatible with earlier versions. Neither is true, as Wi-Fi5 is the first iteration of the certification and 802.11a is not compatible with other 802.11 versions.

The group has also discussed changing its name to reflect the connection between WECA and Wi-Fi, but has not made a decision on that point either, he said, denying previous reports.

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