RealTime IT News

Covad Offers Linksys Wi-Fi

Covad Communications said it will offer Linksys wireless networking hardware to its broadband subscribers, the latest example of a service provider using Wi-Fi for competitive advantage.

Under the pact, Covad digital subscriber line customers can buy Linksys wireless routers, access points, adapters and Ethernet cables through a co-branded site.

Residential and small office/home office customers can use the site to determine the types of networking gear they will need to share a high-speed Internet connection and perform tasks such as file sharing, printer sharing and mobile internet access.

"Teaming with Linksys to provide the hardware gives our customers top quality products and support services," Pat Bennett, executive vice president and general manager, of Covad's broadband unit said.

Linksys will fill orders through its online partner, United Commerce Service, and will also offer free set-up support for Covad customers. Neither the financial terms nor the duration of the contract were disclosed.

"Covad's support of wired and wireless networking for their users further validates networking hardware as a value-added solution to a DSL Internet connection," said Matt McRae, Linksys director of broadband services.

The partnership with Covad expands Linksys' potential customer base. That's exactly what Cisco Systems had in mind when it plunked down $500 million for the Irvine, Calif., company in March.

Cisco, which made its fortune selling networking gear to carriers and enterprises, wanted to branch out from its traditional sectors in an effort to jump start revenues and profits.

Consumers spent $3.7 billion on gear such as wireless routers and access points last year, a figure that is expected to double over the next three years, according to the Dell'Oro Group. The rapid acceleration of the market is one reason Cisco chose to buy Linksys rather than develop its own Wi-Fi offerings.

Besides Santa Clara, Calif.-based Covad, a slew of other providers are integrating Wi-Fi into their mix, although not necessarily in the same way.

This morning, AT&T said it would spend $500 million on a range networking services for businesses, including corporate intranet access via hotspots it plans to install in hotels and airports around the country.

Earlier, Verizon said it would pepper New York with hotspots so its home DSL subscribers can access the Internet from most anywhere downtown. SBC Communications said it will forge ahead with its own public hotspot plan as well.