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A quarter of Wi-Fi tests products fail

More than a quarter of Wi-Fi products fail compatibility tests first time, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance, the body that promotes Wi-Fi use.

Most users find that Wi-Fi devices work first time with any hotspot, however, because the problems are always fixed before the product earns the Wi-Fi badge - the 1,000th of which has now been issued by the Alliance.

"Based on testing of more than 1,000 products over several IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11 standards, products that are prepared for Wi-Fi certification testing fail 25 to 30% of the time or more depending on the technology being tested. Products that do not go through the rigorous testing preparation process have an even higher failure rate," said Wi-Fi Alliance managing director Frank Hanzlik.

"Without Wi-Fi certification, these product failures would have been experienced by the technology consumer."

The alliance's scheme has managed to keep the tests stringent enough to ensure products do meet the standard and work together, and at the same time get enough products through the mill to make it easy to buy certified products. "It is becoming increasingly difficult to compete globally without Wi-Fi certification," said Hanzlik.

The tests have had to evolve, however, and now cover 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and Wi-Fi protected access (WPA), as well as all four in combination.

"It is important to remember that Wi-Fi is a very sophisticated radio technology that is continuously being enhanced. New features and the growing number of additional chip sets make Wi-Fi certification more important than ever to consumers and enterprise IT managers," said Hanzlik.

The alliance maintains a searchable database of certified products. Recent suppliers earning certificates in the last couple of months include 3Com, Accton Technology, Acer, Agere Systems, Airespace, Apple Computer, Belkin, Buffalo, Cisco-Linksys, Dell, D-Link C, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, NEC, NetGear, Proxim and Sony.

Peter Judge writes for Techworld.com

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