Wireless LAN (WLAN) chips will plummet in price and be fitted in almost all notebook PCs by 2007, according to a new study by research company IDC.

"We think it's going to be integrated into most notebooks at that point at a minimum extra charge, if any," said IDC analyst Ken Furer. He estimates that most notebooks will have WLAN built in by 2005, and by 2007, 98 percent will come with it.

Furer predicted 91 percent of those systems will be equipped with 802.11a/b/g chipsets. This year, about 42 percent of notebooks will ship with wireless LAN included.

As demand increases and chip prices fall, the premium for faster 54Mbps (megabits per second) WLAN gear or dual-band hardware, capable of operating both 802.11b/g and 802.11a areas, will all but disappear, Furer added. By 2007, 802.11b chipsets should have halved, while the cost of dual-band chips will drop by about two-thirds.

Even as most notebook PCs are equipped with WLAN, the technology will still be found in few mobile phones because of cost, space and power consumption issues. Even in converged devices with phone and PDA capabilities, penetration will be about five percent in 2007, Furer predicted. In addition, relatively few desktop PCs will come with WLAN, with users relying on add-on gear such as clients attached via USB.