Group may change name of 802.11 certification

The Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) is discussing the possibility of changing the name it gives to 802.11a wireless networking products that it certifies to be compatible.

WECA, a certification body that counts among its members such wireless networking companies as Apple Computer Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co., Intel Corp. and Proxim Corp., tests products that use the 802.11a networking standard to ensure that they work together and then grants products that pass their tests a certification.

The certification given to those products has been called Wi-Fi5, though that could change, according to Dennis Eaton, the chairman of WECA, which is based in Mountain View, Calif. If such a change is made, certified products will likely be called “Wi-Fi Certified,” he said.

WECA has been discussing with its members whether to change the name of the certification and will make an announcement about the name in mid-August, he said.

Despite the pending announcement, Eaton said that “nothing has been officially revealed yet.”

If the name change does come to pass, it will be because the Wi-Fi5 name is confusing to consumers, he said. WECA conducted a series of focus groups in which it asked people about the name.

“Almost universally, they all interpreted (the name) wrong,” he said.

The focus groups thought that Wi-Fi5 indicated the fifth version of a product and that it would be backwards compatible with earlier versions, he said. Neither is true, as Wi-Fi5 is the first iteration of the certification and 802.11a is not compatible with other 802.11 versions.

The group has also discussed changing its name to more accurately reflect the connect between WECA and Wi-Fi, but has not made a decision on that point either, he said, denying previously-published reports.