Linksys Links Back to Dual-band

By Eric Griffith

September 30, 2004

Announcements from the company's recent press event include expanding (and lowering the price of) 11a/g products, support for Verizon VoIP, and a software kit to make it easier to set up and secure a home network.

Dual-band products that support both radio frequencies at 5.0GHz (for 802.11a) and 2.4GHz (for 802.11g/b) have been pretty much passed over by the home networking audience, where finding 802.11a clients is about as easy as finding good new shows in a fall TV season. However, many think 802.11a's future is in sending video signals. That's why Dual-Band Wireless A+G products are among the new (and reintroduced) products and services introduced this week by Linksys during its Home Networking Day press event.

Linksys—owned by Cisco Systems and rated number one in consumer sales of Wi-Fi products—also has new support for the VoiceWing VoIP service from Verizon, deals with Best Buy to educate consumers on networking, and a new wireless 802.11g camera.

The 802.11a/g product line includes the WRT55AG router Linksys has had since 2003, but with a massive price drop from $299 MSRP to $109. Linksys also offers a dual-band notebook PC Card and desktop PCI adapter for $89 each (each has Wi-Fi Protected Access for security), and an external USB adapter for $99. In the company's announcement, they specifically say the 802.11a mode is "best suited for multiplayer games and video streaming."

Even though they tout the video on 11a, their new camera is 11g: the Linksys Wireless-G Internet Video Camera (model WVC54G) is an update of the previous 11b version with the same form factor, this time with a little LCD screen right on the camera to show the unit's assigned IP address, making it easier to access through a Web browser window. Using the SoloLink Dynamic Domain Name System (DDNS) service, you can access the camera's streaming video over the Internet from any location. The unit will have a price of $199.

The company is also going to have a new "Easy Toolkit" shipping with its Wireless-G products, including a wireless network configuration wizard co-developed with Intel to step people through the setup process of their home WLAN. It will also include the SecureEZSetup software developed by Broadcom to make securing a network a simpler process than it has been previously. SEZS is only available on a few select Linksys products using Broadcom chips.

Other Linksys news of the week isn't wireless-specific, but can be used by wired and wireless Linksys customers alike:

Linksys will support the new VoiceWing Broadband Phone Service from Verizon with a two phone port adapter that converts analog calls to VoIP calls on the service. Verizon will be including the adapters in its installation kits to VoiceWing customers. This isn't the first Linksys products to support VoIP— they also have similar adapters for the Vonage VoIP service. Linksys will also soon have a wireless 802.11g router with two phone ports built in.

Linksys will be supplying the Best Buy consumer electronics chain with Interactive Home Networking Zone displays to help educate the public about setting up a home network. It will cover basics as well as multimedia uses, such as getting digital music on a PC to play on the stereo. The zone is already in 550 stores, with more planned.



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