Two wireless-networking standards are competing for dominance, following Thursday’s US Federal Communications Commissions decision to approve a new wireless standard.

The standard, championed by an industry group that includes Proxim, Intel and Motorola, will compete directly with the system adopted by Apple in its AirPort.

Set in the 2.4GHz spectrum band, the new standard is also backed by the HomeRF Working group. The standard offers wireless networking at potential speeds approaching 11MB per second, against the 2MB per second available to current wireless technologies.

Competition Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner Group, said the FCC's decision could add confusion to a market that already features a competing wireless local-area-network technology developed for home use by the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA). Members of that group include Lucent, Cisco and Apple.

WECA members make wireless LAN equipment that provides 11Mbit per second speeds in the 2.4GHz band through a technique called direct sequence. This method evenly spreads the signals across all the channels in the band. The WECA group opposed the HomeRF standard during the FCC's rule-making process, arguing that the frequency hopping could cause interference with direct-sequence equipment.

However, Ben Manny, chairman of the HomeRF group, said the ruling by the FCC gives the proponents of the frequency-hopping technology "everything we need to develop these next-generation devices". Manny added that the new rule "levels the playing field" between the two competing standards.