Seeking to promote the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) 802.11 standard for wireless LANs, (the basis for Airport), the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) has announced a branding program for compatible products, and welcomed new members to the group.

Unveiled by WECA at the NetWorld+Interop conference (a huge conference for networking devices in the US), the "Wi-Fi" brand, for Wireless Fidelity, will be applied to products certified as compliant with the 802.11 standard, for 2.4GHz-band wireless computer and communications products. Testing will be done by Silicon Valley Networking Lab of San Jose, California, once WECA and the lab complete a test suite, currently in development.

Members of the alliance include Alantro, Apple, Breezecom, Cabletron, Compaq, Dell Computer, Intermec, No Wires Needed, Sharewave, Wayport, Zoom, 3Com, Arronet, Intercel, Lucent Technologies, Nokia and Symbol Technologies.

Officials of WECA are promoting the 802.11 standard wireless communications for applications in the enterprise, education, home, small business and public access sectors.

"We're all backing one high-rate wireless standard," said Don Cohen, vice chairman of WECA and wireless product manager at 3Com.

While 802.11 standard is the group's mantra, WECA anticipates that the Bluetooth – watch this space for an explanation of this in the future as the specifacations are finalized – specification will become the standard for WPANs, or short-range, wireless personal-area networks. The WECA announcement came just a day after an industry consortium, the HiperLAN2 Global Forum, said it will support HiperLAN2, an alternative wireless standard for products operating in the 5GHz frequency.

Nokia belongs to both the HiperLAN2 Forum and WECA. But 3Com's Cohen was not ready to back HiperLAN2, although he would not rule it out.

"I think (802.11) is the technology for now and for the next several years," Cohen said. Although a 5GHz band presents an opportunity for higher data transmission rates, products are not available to operate at this frequency, he said.