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Wi-Fi & Cellular A Wireless Match Router

Articles about the future of Wi-Fi have long touted the promise of seamless roaming between cellular and Wi-Fi as one moves from a cell coverage area to a Wi-Fi zone, and vice versa. While that promise is not yet a reality, it is getting closer, thanks to a third-generation Wi-Fi/cell chipset from Texas Instruments announced this week.

Already some devices on the market offer both technologies, such as the new Nokia Communicator 9500, developed in partnership with IBM. Primarily aimed at business applications, Wi-Fi and cell connections for these devices would be handled at the enterprise level.

Texas Instruments Wi-Fi/Cell chipset But the real holy grail is for the average consumer to be able to buy a cell handset or laptop PC card that switches wireless technologies transparently, without having to think about it. Carriers like T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and AT&T; Wireless, all of whom offer Wi-Fi hotspot access as well as cell service, would be natural providers for such services.

The Texas Instruments TNETW1250 802.11a/b/g chipset will provide the hardware half of the equation, by offering greatly reduced power, size, and cost as compared to earlier generations, and is specifically designed for mobile devices like cell phones, smartphones and PDAs. TI cites the growing popularity of mobile entertainment solutions like streaming audio and video, which the faster download speed of Wi-Fi makes possible.

Now it's up to the carriers and software developers to do their part in making the dream a reality. End-user products using the chipset are expected this fall.