Intel will miss June deadline for Chinese wireless chip standard

Intel will not have a wireless chip that supports the security protocol mandated by the Chinese government ready for PC...

Intel will not have a wireless chip that supports the security protocol mandated by the Chinese government ready for PC manufacturers in time for 1 June.

The Chinese government is mandating that all wireless Lan equipment sold in the country after 1 June follow a Chinese wireless standard known as GB15629.11-2003.

That standard is similar to the 802.11 standard used by the most other countries, but contains a security protocol known as Wapi(WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure) that is not compatible with the WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security protocol used by the 802.11 standard.

Intel will not be able to have a version of its Pro/Wireless Wlan chip that supports Wapiin place by 1 June, and the company is unsure when such a chip will, eventually, be ready, said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy.

"Based on our understanding of Wapi, we're not going to make the 1 June deadline. We don't yet have a road map for when we'll do that," Mulloy said.

Intel's Centrino package of the Pentium M processor, a mobile chipset, and the Wlan chip has been available in China so far, but after 1 June Intel will just sell the Pentium M processor and the chipset.

Intel is concerned about the interoperability of notebooks and access points based on Wapi as well as application support, Mulloy said. Chips with the Wapi protocol require more processor performance and more memory, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Because of these technical issues, Intel felt it could not have a product ready by June that meets its own quality standards, Mulloy said.

By choosing to implement its own standard, China might damage the ability of its PC companies to participate in the global market for Wlan products, Mulloy said. "We're concerned that by mandating a standard that's not compatible, China is taking an approach that has proven ineffective in the past."

Intel might also be worried about the co-production agreements that foreign vendors have to sign with Chinese companies to participate in the Chinese Wlan market. These agreements could present a number of problems for foreign suppliers, such as delays in granting approval of foreign products based on the standard while Chinese companies are able to get to market quickly.

Intel is not closing the door on manufacturing Wapi-equipped chips, but it needed to inform its customers that it would not be able to comply with the deadline.

"We are still in discussion with a number of officials in China, and we are still looking for a solution," Mulloy said.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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