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More WiFi: 802.11i fends off China

Early IEEE 802.11 wireless technology was riddled with security holes. Everyone knows that by now. Two years ago IEEE came out with 802.11i in order to plug the gaping holes through the use of AES encryption and authentication technology. It's good stuff. And the National Institute of Standards and Technology just came out with its own guidance on 802.11i.

But 802.11i has a competitor, if you can call it that. China developed something called WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure) for securing wireless networks and once tried to force companies such as Intel to use it for mobile technology in that country. There was a standoff between China and Washington, and China backed down.

This week the Associated Press reported that China bailed out--literally--on what was probably its best chance to further its own standard around the globe.

With IEEE 802.11i catching on, China earlier this spring took its case to the International Organization for Standardization, which in March voted in favor of 802.11i. Last week ISO organized a meeting in the Czech Republic to hear an appeal.

But according to the AP, China walked out of the appeal meeting. The official Chinese news agency Xinhua had accused the IEEE of "dirty tricks" througout the process, though what those tricks are remains unclear.

It's also unclear if this is the last we've heard of WAPI, not that anyone needs to hold up their WiFi deployments over this. According to Xinhua, the China Broadband Wireless IP Standard Group has 49 pieces of evidence that the IEEE broke ISO rules in lobbying for 802.11i.

AP says the ISO is mum on China's recent walk-out, but in the true spirit of a victor, IEEE wants China back at the table to talk about making WAPI work with international standards--which is to say, with 802.11i.

Posted by Brad Grimes

Posted by Brad Grimes, Joab Jackson on Jun 14, 2006 at 9:39 AM


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