Core 2 Duo-based Mac owners who want to unlock the next-generation 802.11n wireless features hidden inside their new computer will first have pay a few more dollars to Apple, websites AppleInsider and iLounge are reporting.

According to the two sites, new customers will have to pay a $5 levy to enable their computer to work with the new 802.11n AirPort Extreme Base Station announced last week even though the technology to connect to the new router is already in the computer.

Customers will have to pay to download a software enabler which will unlock the feature on their computer.

However, customers who buy the company's new Airport Extreme Base Station will automatically get the software update for free.

According to the report on AppleInsider "Apple last week confirmed the move, saying Mac systems currently shipping with hidden 802.11n capabilities included the Core 2 Duo MacBook, Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, Mac Pro with AirPort Extreme, and the Core 2 Duo iMac (with the exception of the 17-inch 1.83GHz model)".

The company said that it plans to offer an "AirPort Extreme 802.11n Enabler 1.0" patch next month when it begins shipping its new AirPort Extreme Base Station, which will activate the technology.

"Most new Mac computers ship with built-in 802.11n wireless support that can be easily enabled with the installation of enabler software included with new AirPort Extreme wireless base station", Apple wrote on its website.

According to iLounge, who spoke to an Apple representative at MacWorld 2007:

"The Core 2 Duo Macs weren’t advertised as 802.11n-ready, and a little law called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act supposedly prohibits Apple from giving away an unadvertised new feature for one of its products. Hence, said the Apple rep, the company’s not distributing new "features" in Software Update any more, just "bug fixes", because of Sarbanes-Oxley. If this is an accurate statement of Apple’s position, which as an attorney (but not one with any Sarbanes background) I find at least plausible, this is really crazy."

iLounge goes on to say: "Because of the Act, the company believes that if it sells a product, then later adds a feature to that product, it can be held liable for improper accounting if it recognizes revenue from the product at the time of sale, given that it hasn’t finished delivering the product at that point. Ridiculous".

Until recently customers who have bought the new system for the last several months have been unaware until now that their computer featured the new technology.