Lucent unveils wireless LAN USB client

By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2000-12-04

Lucent Technologies Inc. last week announced a USB client for its Orinoco line of wireless networking products.

With the device, which is basically a radio transceiver plug-in, users can connect a desktop or laptop PC to a wireless LAN by plugging the device into a spare Universal Serial Bus connector and installing the software drivers.

The client is meant for small-office employees who need an easy-to-install device and who dont want to deal with ISA slots or having to change PC configurations, said officials at the Murray Hill, N.J., company.

The device enables communication between a PC and any Orinoco access point or any other access point that supports the 802.11 wireless LAN standard. The standard supports speeds up to 11M bps.

The Orinoco USB Client is powered through the USB connector, so it does not require a separate power supply. It includes indicator lights for data traffic and supports Windows 98, Windows ME and Windows 2000.

It comes in two versions based on the encryption level. The Silver 64-bit key Wireless Equivalent Privacy encryption version will be priced at $199; the Gold 128-bit key encryption version will be priced at $219. Both will be available early next year from various e-commerce sites and North American retailers.

USB is currently the connection of choice for consumer devices such as MP3 players because connecting is easy, but the technology has a reputation for being unreliable. Common complaints include glitches—usually with software drivers—that occur when a user tries to run more than one USB device at a time.

The Orinoco line is part of Lucents Microelectronics division, which is slated to be spun off from the parent company by next summer.

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