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Wi-Fi 802.11b Standard Expires

What?! Does something about this article seem odd, not as you remember, or too good to be true? Check the date it was published!

As everyone knows, all technology industry standards come with a built-in expiration date, a kind of “terminator gene” intended to prevent protocols from functioning indefinitely. Such old technologies can, if allowed to continue, result in security breaches and prevent the sale of improved hardware and software. The final day of operation for IEEE 802.11b, the earliest flavor of the trade group certified Wi-Fi standard, was 31-Mar-09.

You might think you can work around this problem by setting your device’s clock to a date preceding the protocol expiration, but this usually won’t do the trick. Many hardware devices contain a simple clock that does rough tracking to ensure that the expiration mechanism isn’t bypassed.

If you own a pre-2003 Macintosh, you might have woken up this morning and found that you couldn’t connect to the network. If you’re running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger or 10.5 Leopard, you should see a dialog explaining that your AirPort Card will no longer work, and advising a trip to the Apple Store. A $99 AirPort Express can be used to connect a Mac to an 802.11g or a newer network via its built-in Ethernet port.


The AirPort Extreme, starting in 2003, contains 802.11g technology, which isn’t slated to expire until midnight on 31-Mar-11.

While disabling hardware just because a certain date has passed might seem harsh, if you read the fine print of the license agreement on the box, you’ll see that you agreed to this policy when you purchased the equipment.

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