While the prospect of public wireless hot spots in airports and hotels has wireless carriers interested in WLAN technology, traditional wire-line carriers are using the technology to serve their home and small-business customers.
Verizon Communications Inc. last week announced a deal with wireless LAN manufacturer Linksys Group Inc. in which customers can buy a Linksys Etherfact router from Verizon along with their DSL (digital subscriber line) service.
To encourage customers to go wireless, Verizon is offering new DSL business customers a choice of two rebates on the $180 Linksys BEFW11S4 wireless router.
New DSL business customers that order the basic DSL service with speeds of 768K bps downstream and 128K bps upstream will receive a $100 rebate. Businesses ordering any DSL plans with connection speeds of 1.5M bps or above will receive a $180 rebate. There are no rebates for the adapters necessary to put each computer on the network.
Officials at Verizon said they want to offer small-office/ home-office customers a way to extend DSL connections without tearing their houses apart, and they acknowledged it is easier to add a router than to reconfigure a wired network.
"They can just set it up themselves," said Briana Gowing, a spokeswoman for Verizon, in New York.
While Gowing said setup is supposed to be easy, she added that Verizon will offer users an installation service for a fee.
Potential users said the deal makes a lot of sense, including one business owner who is setting up a home office.
"We wanted high-speed Internet access for both our PCs and our laptops," said Scott Ladner, president of Transportation and Storage Solutions Inc., a trailer leasing company in Shrewsbury, Mass. "For us, having one-stop shopping would be great because we want DSL and a wireless network. Unfortunately, we cant get the service where I live, and we have to use cable. Were planning on going through the cable company to get a modem and then hire someone to do the networking. It would be nice to be able to do everything in one place."
Hardware providers have been focusing on the Wi-Fi/DSL marriage, as well.
SMC Networks Inc. last week introduced a router that supports myriad high-speed wired and wireless technologies.
The Barricade Turbo 2.4GHz/5GHz Universal Wireless Broadband Router includes not just support for 802.11b, or Wif-Fi, which offers data transfer rates as fast as 11M bps, but also 802.11a, which offers rates as fast as 54M bps. The router supports DSL and cable modems.
Available next month, the router can transfer data at up to 108M bps in a proprietary "turbo" mode, according to officials at the Irvine, Calif., company.
In addition to acting as a wireless access point, the router works as a four-port, 10/100M-bps switch.
The $299 router comes with stateful packet inspection firewall security, network management features, parental control and virtual private network pass-through support.