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Wi-Fi Alliance boasts battery boost

Dead batteries could be a thing of the past. The Wi-Fi Alliance yesterday announced a new program aimed at extending Wi-Fi device battery life.

The Wi-Fi Alliance wants mobile devices to keep going, and going, and going. ...

The alliance yesterday announced it certified features for networks that will boost the battery life for Wi-Fi devices. Called WMM Power Save, the program could help fuel the use of Wi-Fi technology in handsets and other devices where battery life is critical, the alliance said. Power Save is an offshoot of the alliance's Wi-Fi Multimedia program.

Monica Paolini, founder of Sammamish, Wash.-based wireless technologies consulting firm Senza Fili Consulting, said use of Wi-Fi devices, namely phones, is expected to increase, and a program like Power Save will become a necessity. Paolini said corporate adoption of Wi-Fi-enabled mobile phones is on a steady incline, while the number of consumer users is expected to reach 55 million in the next five years.

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"Whatever you can do to increase battery life is important," she said, adding that Wi-Fi-enabled devices have a higher demand on the battery and tend to gobble up juice with constant signal transmitting and receiving. "Battery life makes a huge difference."

According to Paolini, short battery life has been a turn-off for corporations and consumers looking into Wi-Fi phones. What the Power Save certification does, Paolini said, is chop in half a device's need to continually send and receive a signal, therefore preserving battery life.

"When you're speaking, the phone will take micro-naps between frames," she said. "That reduces the amount of time the phone needs to transmit and receive."

Those short naps, Paolini said, will be unnoticeable to the user.

"How many times have you had your phone in your car or pocket and you miss important calls because it had been off for a few hours because of a dead battery?" she asked. "The whole idea of a mobile phone is that it goes with you wherever you go and can rely on it. This helps you rely on it."

Paolini said the Power Save program could ultimately change the view of Wi-Fi from a data transport vehicle to voice and other applications, which tend to eat more power.

In a statement, the Wi-Fi Alliance said the Power Save program gives device makers and developers a way to improve Wi-Fi power efficiency by improving signaling capabilities while also fine-tuning power consumption. The certification covers access points and devices and uses mechanisms from the recently ratified IEEE 802.11e standard and the legacy 802.11 power save.

"WMM Power Save has the potential to provide significant improvement in battery life for devices such as mobile handsets," the alliance's managing director Frank Hanzlik said in a statement. "This new program builds on our successful WMM Quality of Service program, which has certified more than 230 devices since its launch in September 2004, and is an important milestone in our efforts to support Wi-Fi in exciting new markets."

Among the first devices certified for WMM Power Save are:

  • Atheros AR5002AP -- 2X Access Point
  • Broadcom AirForce BCM94704AGR Dual-Band 802.11a/g Access Point
  • Broadcom AirForce BCM94309CB Dual-Band 802.11a/g PC Card
  • Cisco AIR-AP1231G-A-K9 with AIR-RM21A-A-K9
  • Conexant 802.11a/g PRISOM WorldRadio
  • Marvell Semiconductor 802.11a/b/g WLAN router
  • Ralink 802.11a/g Mini PCI
  • Winbond Mini PCI 802.11a/b/g WLAN Client

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