According to a notice issued by the Standardization Administration of China, which manages standards in various industries, as of December 1st, Chinese government agencies are prohibiting the import, manufacture and sale of Wi-Fi gear that does not use China's new security specification.

All Wi-Fi gear makers are to start using the Wired Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI) specification, support for which is not included in current or upcoming security specifications, such as Wi-Fi Protected Access or 802.11i, developed and enforced by industry groups the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Wi-Fi Alliance, effectively making it incompatible with the standards developed by technology industry groups. WAPI is to be used with Wi-Fi standards in the 2.4GHz radio band, according to the notice, adding confusion to the market by presenting another obstacle for manufacturers looking to sell products in China as WAPI adds another security specification that needs to be considered as companies start to install Wi-Fi networks.

Security experts say that, by prohibiting gear that does not use WAPI, the Chinese government is throwing an obstacle in the way of manufacturers looking to enter the Chinese market. "It would be unfortunate if we are not able to resolve this so that the China standard and others in the world can't coexist," said Dennis Eaton, chairman of the WiFi Alliance. "Wi-Fi vendors may have to use special requirements for products that sell into China." According to Eaton, it is clear that WAPI, does not use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), a key encryption component for wireless networks.

Eaton added that he is not aware of any other countries that plan to use WAPI.


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