WiFi Alliance appoints a boss, holds fire on 11g

by Guy Kewney | posted on 12 June 2003

There never was a Managing Director of the WiFi Alliance before; there is now. And unofficially, it has started approving the 802.11g devices - but no announcements on that yet. The new man will have his hands full!

Guy Kewney

The need for a boss is pretty clear. The Alliance has several really excellent officials, but none of them works full time for the standards approval watchdog, and every one of them has an axe of their own to grind.

<1/> Frank Hanzlik

The new face, appointed on the same day that the IEEE 802.11g standard is finally ratified, is that of a man described as "seasoned industry executive Frank Hanzlik" and he will lead the alliance into its fastest growth period.

Hanzlik was most recently Vice President of Marketing and Product Management at Mobilian and has also worked in senior positions at Dell and Motorola.

The organisation's chairman and figurehead up to now, Dennis Eaton, explained the need for a new role in the Alliance: "Wireless LANs have experienced incredible growth since the first products were certified in March of 2000, and although much has been accomplished to date, the number of Alliance initiatives continues to increase. To address this, the Alliance Board of Directors recognized that it would need additional senior management leadership."

His first hurdle will be to smoothly manage the rollout of the new high-speed WLAN standard.

The Alliance has, unofficially, started preparations for approval testing for the 11g-based devices. They have to work with each other, not just with other devices made by the same company, and the challenge will be considerable. Not only will all the existing Wireless-G "standard" devices now be upgraded or upgradeable, but also, new chip sets are hitting the market.

"The explosive growth of wireless LANs is creating a tremendous business opportunity - and enabling a level of unprecedented connectivity freedom," said Hanzlik.

WiFi Certified products and services are at the cornerstone of this growth, he pointed out: "enabling proven product interoperability and a great user experience." He added: "I am very excited to lead this prestigious organization and take our current successes to the next level."

However, with dual and triple-standard WiFi devices now coming onto the market, plus the appearance of several rival implementations, Hanzlik's hands will be full of political disputes. Today's ratification of 11g means that in two weeks or so, all the big resellers of Broadcom Wireless-G chips will be putting new drivers on their web sites.

These drivers will introduce new features such as "packet bursting" to the market, and it will be an absolute miracle if the first release of these drivers works flawlessly under all standard conditions.

Unfortunately, they all carry the WiFi logo already. The Alliance was sent these devices for conformance testing with 802.11b standards - and there was no way it was going to be able to fail them on the grounds that they went beyond the 802.11b spec. So it approved them.

If users understand that, it will be an important industry first.

* WiFi-based wireless LANs will be on display at EXPO COMM Wireless Japan 2003 (Tokyo International Exhibition Center, Tokyo Big Sight, Booth # 751), Tokyo, Japan, July 16-18, 2003.

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