Intel CTO to meet Chinese officials over Wlan security standard

Intel chief technology officer Pat Gelsinger is to meet with Chinese government officials to discuss concerns over China's...

Intel chief technology officer Pat Gelsinger is to meet with Chinese government officials to discuss concerns over China's national wireless Lan security standard and its impending deadline.

The Standardisation Administration of China (SAC) announced the development of a national Wlan standard in May 2003 and is demanding that all Wlan products sold in the country from 1 June this year support the standard.

Called GB15629.11-2003, the standard is very similar to the IEEE's 802.11 standard, commonly known as Wi-Fi,  already in use around the world, but a major difference exists in the security protocol.

The Chinese system uses a protocol called Wlan Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (Wapi), which is not compatible with the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) that is part of the 802.11 standard.

Details of the Wapi system have been shared with around 20 Chinese companies and no foreign IT makers, which means Intel and other foreign companies face the prospect of having to enter into co-production agreements with Chinese companies to gain access to the technology or risk having their products shut out of the Chinese market.

"We have been very deeply involved with the Wapi issue, as you would expect given its impact on our products like Centrino," said Gelsinger. "At this point we have not made any public statements one way or the other over our support or not support for Wapi. We are still evaluating it and working with the Chinese government with regard to some of our concerns in that area."

Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service

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