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Microsoft prepares fix for Xbox 360 wireless interference issue

The first Xbox 360 demonstration units were shipped to Wal-Mart stores across the United States last week to great fanfare, and have since been plagued with reports of problems with the wireless functionality on the devices - which Microsoft has now confirmed is a known problem that it is working on a fix for.

The issue appears to be that the wireless controllers for the device (reports on this are confused, but as far as we can gather the pads are wireless but have a USB plug running into the back of them to keep them charged up) are interfering with wireless equipment used by many retailers, including product scanners.

This had prompted fears that the console - which operates on the same 2.4Ghz band used by home wireless networks and cordless phones - could also interfere with devices in people's homes, but according to Microsoft, this will not be a problem.

"This issue is specific to the equipment used in a few retail environments," a Microsoft spokesperson told gaming blog Kotaku earlier this week. "Microsoft has one of the most robust testing programs in the industry and has ensured that Xbox 360 meets all FCC/ETSI requirements and rules for operation in the 2.4Ghz band."

The problem appears to be that some of the devices being used by retailers are outdated technology that was built before regulations were introduced to make sure that gadgets on the increasingly crowded 2.4Ghz band play nicely with one another, so the presence of an Xbox 360 messes up their operation.

"We are working closely with our partners to provide a software solution that mitigates this problem within their retail environments," explained the Microsoft spokesperson. "Adjustments and tweaks to kiosks of any kind are quite common once they're deployed in a live retail environment and we consider making such adjustments a standard part of the launch process."

Xbox 360 pods are expected to appear in some UK retail outlets, as well as in other retailers around the United States, within the next week or so.

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Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.