Free At Last

Sorting Out the Standards

Most of today's wireless LAN radio waves send signals along the 2.4GHz unlicensed frequency, using the established 802.11 international telecommu-nications standard. Backed by leading equipment and software providers, 802.11 is used in the majority of LANs and is slated to become the most common and popular standard by year-end. However, some manufacturers currently use different standards proprietary to their companies-although they may eventually switch to 802.11. Netgear's wireless LAN, for instance, uses its own proprietary protocol and includes access point software-making its $249 (street) price tag for a complete system one of the lowest on the market.

Another advantage: Security features are built in to most wireless LANs, which are considered safer than the average LANs. Those encryption techniques, originally developed for military use, make it very difficult for eavesdroppers to listen in.

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This article was originally published in the June 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Free At Last.

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