Dell champions 802.11 standard

Michael Dell, chairman and chief executive officer of Dell Computer, speaking Tuesday at the CTIA Wireless 2001 conference organised by the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, said that wireless Ethernet has taken off to the extent that over 50 per cent of the company's notebooks sold today are equipped with an 802.11 antenna hidden behind the screen. The 802.11 standard is so numbered by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

"802.11 is taking off in a huge way," Dell said. "There is already broad use in hotel chains, Starbucks, airports, in the office and even in the home."

And Dell won't let his notebook computer be replaced by phones, either. "Phones are voice devices, and no matter how fast the data rate is, there's a limit to the amount of data you can read on the screen," he said.

Although he's a big supporter of 802.11, Dell hasn't written off other standards. "What we're all about is offering our customers the broadest groups of choices," he said. "Take the wired analogy: we offer dial-up, cable and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line). We can do the same thing, only with wireless."

Dell sees a huge opportunity in convincing customers to switch over to wireless data communications, from fixed-line access, if it's approached correctly. "Our data customers are pretty used to a flat-rate pricing model, the new (wireless) one would have to be somewhat comparable to what they're used to," he said.

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Douglas F. Gray

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