3Com has announced a move into wireless local area networking with the launch of a new product range and a partnership with data storage vendor Symbol Technologies.
3Com's Airconnect products, being launched later today at the Networld+Interop show in Las Vegas, will provide 11Mbps wireless connections to the Lan, giving users wireless network access from any point in a campus.
Analysts say that wireless Lans are still a niche application and their slow speed in comparison to Ethernet networks means they're unlikely to replace wireline Lans for some years to come.
3Com, currently involved in wireless communications through its Palm Computing division, says wireless Lans will give its customers greater flexibility by enabling them to extend their existing Lans without additional wiring.
"We will build on our leadership in wired networks to make simple and reliable wireless connectivity a reality for our customers," said Rich Redelfs, general manager of 3Com's Wireless Connectivity division.
Developed jointly by 3Com and Symbol, the 11Mbps direct sequence wireless Lan product is based on IEEE-standards. Symbol will use the technology in its Spectrum24 wireless data product, also being launched at today's show.
Analyst Pim Bilderbeek, director at IDC's Lan division said wireless Lans are still a niche area.
"Wireless Lan still performs well below wireline speeds. Wireless is not a replacement for regular fixed Lans just yet," he said. "You're not buying it for the speed, but the mobility."
Likely applications would be trade shows, classrooms, auctions and areas where you cannot lay wires.
Wireless Lans will compliment 3Com's existing wireline products, he said.
"3Com has lots of customers in Ethernet Lans. They've never been big in wireless Lans, but I think they can make a presence there," he said
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