3Com is in talks with several European telcos, cable operators and Internet service providers (ISPs) about creating home networking service bundles that include products from its new Personal Connectivity Business Unit (PCBU).
But the networking equipment giant does not believe such offerings will be available for at least another year in Europe - long after the launch of similar schemes in the US.
3Com's set up the PCBU earlier this year (see VNU Newswire, 16 April, 1999) to bring together its home networking, consumer broadband and wireless products. These include its analogue, cable and digital subscriber line (DSL) modems, video products, home networking tools and consumer oriented Palm Pilots.
Neil Clemmons, 3Com's vice president of consumer marketing, said the company would start offering bundled services with US operators and service providers in the autumn, but because of differences in Internet and telephone infrastructure in Europe, similar services may not be available in the region until at least six months later.
He said: "There are differences in the US versus Europe. In the US, there is flat rate Internet pricing, but in Europe, you see per minute charges from the telecoms operator on top of the Internet access charge. This is significantly impeding the growth of the Internet in Europe."
He continued that many European phones also do not have multiple jacks that can share the same Internet connection.
Although 3Com is holding discussions with potential European partners, "much of Europe is barely PC oriented. In the US, PCs are part of the lifestyle. It will be six months before we see any bundling agreements - you have to have multiple PCs in the home for home networking to make sense," Clemmons said.
Despite this, he expected consumers in the Nordic region, UK and Germany to become early adopters of the technology. By autumn this year, however, US customers will have access to a service that combines an Internet connection, cable modems and a kit to enable multiple home PCs to share the same modem.
A 802.11 wireless product to connect multiple PCs or notebooks to the same phone line at speeds of 10Mbps will also ship at the same time in the US, costing less than $100.
On Tuesday, 3Com also launched a digital camera that plugs into PCs' universal serial buses for consumer video conferencing. The Home Connect PC digital camera is the first product to ship under the PCBU's Home Connect brand.
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