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Early Bird

Did you jump the gun by going with the wireless standard "A"? Maybe not.

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you're an early adopter who jumped on the 802.11astandard, you can be forgiven for feeling just a little abandoned.Will Strauss, an analyst at semiconductor market research firmForwardConcepts, predicts,"802.11a is going to have a very shortlife as a stand-alone protocol." The problem: 802.11a hardwaredoesn't talk to either the original 802.11b Wi-Fi standard orthe newer 802.11g protocol. That leaves some 650,000 "a"adapters squeezed between a huge installed base of 35 millioninexpensive 802.11b adapters and the surging but unfinalized802.11g standard. The latter delivers the same 54Mbps as 802.11anetworks, even better security and still talks to 802.11b gear.

But don't toss out your "a" hardware just yet. Thedownside of "b" and "g" networks is that theyoperate over the busy 2.4GHz band, where they're subject to alot of interference-causing speed rollbacks or worse. Add an802.11b adapter to a network, and bandwidth rolls back to 11Mbps inany case.

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