Intel on Tuesday announced a new home networking solution that uses existing phone lines and does not require users to open up their PCs.
The new home networking products were introduced on Tuesday at an event in San Mateo, California. The Anypoint Home Network is based on the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance specification (HomePNA).
It will allow multiple PCs to be networked together to share resources, including Internet connections via cable modem, Digital Subscriber Line or traditional dialup connections.
Data from market research firm Dataquest suggests that there will be 17 million homes in the US this year with multiple PCs, a number that is expected to reach 26 million in the next four years.
According to Intel, the four top reasons consumers want to network their home PCs are: Internet sharing; printer sharing; file sharing and network gaming.
The Anypoint network will deliver a total bandwidth of 1Mbps, one tenth of traditional Ethernet.
The company said Anypoint was designed primarily with ease of installation in mind. Consumers plug an external device onto the parallel port of their PC and connect it to a phone socket. Every time the PC boots up, it will detect all available Anypoint devices on the network.
Intel will also sell an internal PCI card version of Anypoint, for those consumers not afraid of opening up their PCs.
Anypoint will only support PCs running Windows 95 or Windows 98. Intel has not announced any plans to offer support for other emerging home networking technologies, such as Sun?s Jini.
A basic Anypoint Home Network kit for two PCs will be sold in the US for $189. However, it will be another year before Anypoint reaches the European market.
According to Intel, there are not enough homes in Europe that have multiple phone sockets installed. Also, the frequencies used for sending the network signal over the phone line might interfere with European telephone systems.
?We think [phone line networking] is not the optimal solution for Europe or Japan,? said Dan Sweeney, general manager of Intel?s home networking group. He said a wireless version of Anypoint using radio frequencies will be launched early next year, at about the same price point.
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