RealTime IT News

Linksys Provides Office Networking for Ricochet

Linksys, one of the leaders in home and small office networking equipment, has provided a product that will have users of satellite Internet connections drooling with envy: the Linksys Ricochet Router. This product will let subscribers to the proprietary Ricochet wireless Wide Area Network for Internet access share the connection with multiple PCs.

The Ricochet service returned from the dead last year after flaming out with the dotcom bust in 2001. Now owned by Aerie Networks, which bought the technology, patents and assets from Metricom, Ricochet has been redeployed in two cities, San Diego, CA, and Denver, CO. The Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, area is in the planning stage. The company is focusing more on small businesses than consumers this time around.

The Linksys Ricochet Router (model BEFSR41W-RN) , which costs $119.65 to Ricochet customers who purchase it through the www.ricochet.com Web site, is one of the first SOHO routers to support a broadband connection that is not based on a cable modem or DSL. Most satellite-based broadband connections such as DirecWay from Hughes only allow one computer at a time to use the broadband connection -- they ensure this by using a USB cable connection, which few routers support.

Ricochet, however, requires an external modem or internal PC Card be in the computer to pick up the wireless signal. Now the card (a $99.95 Novatel Wireless Merlin for Ricochet, which is sold separately) is instead installed in the Linksys Ricochet Router, which then connects to up to four the computers to share the Internet connection. It can be coupled with a switch to connect more Ethernet computers, or can be used with a separate access point to provide 802.11-based wireless networking.