WLAN vendors gain back-door WAPI support

In through Taiwan

International wireless networking product vendors appear to have found a way around some of the rocks China has thrown in the road leading to the implementation of its WAPI (Wired Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure) standard.

From 1 June all WLAN equipment sold in China must adhere to WAPI, an alternative to Wi-Fi/802.11 that the Chinese government claims is more secure. Some firms, most notably Intel, have said they will not bend to such pressure. Others, sensing an opportunity now that Intel's out of the picture, have said they will support the standard.

The trouble is, to do so they need access to the standard's specifications, and these are available only through a limited number of local partners.

But, according to unnamed Taiwanese sources cited by local news site DigiTimes, a number of chip design houses have obtained WAPI certification and are building relationships with international WLAN firms which would prefer not to work with state-authorised businesses in mainland China.

The sources claim two Taiwanese chip design companies, CyberTan and Inprcomm, are working with Cisco subsidiary Linksys. Both designers received WAPI certification earlier this month. They also allege that Netgear is to partner with Cameo Communications, Sercomm and Z-Com, in addition to Chinese PC maker Lenovo.

D-Link is similarly dealing with a mainland-based supplier, according to company president J C Liao, the report states.

Intel, meanwhile, has said it will continue to lobby the Chinese government to drop its plan to introduce the WAPI support requirement on 1 June. US chip industry trade body the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has also called upon Beijing to ditch WAPI - or at least the demand that all products sold in the country adhere to the standard, which it describes as a barrier to trade. ®

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