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Outsourcing: Fools are We

China Embraces WAPI

I enjoyed reading Dave Molta's cover story on building secure enterprise WLANs ("Wi-Fi vs. Bad Guy," March 4, 2004). However, the article didn't mention WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure), the wild card security protocol China is embracing. Rejecting the IEEE's standards, the Chinese are insisting that all WLAN equipment sold in their country after June 1 support WAPI. If developers are forced to make their products compatible with WAPI, China's policy could slow the adoption of mainstream WLAN security standards and/or take them in a new direction.


Communications Network Manager/AVP
Wells Fargo, d/b/a Pacific Northwest Bank
[email protected]

Dave Molta replies: The WAPI story broke shortly after I finished writing my article. I agree that WAPI is a fascinating issue, not only from a technology perspective, but also from a business/political standpoint.

Of course, I'm not in an ideal position to speculate about the intentions of the Chinese government. The Chinese claim they're trying to make wireless communications more secure. U.S. companies see China's policy as yet another example of heavy-handed protectionism.

Intel's decision to call China's bluff and stop shipping Centrino to that country is probably indicative of the concerns most U.S. companies have about sharing their intellectual property with any Chinese enterprise. At the same time, many of the emerging wireless companies have global OEM agreements that make it impossible for them to ignore the Chinese market.

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