Motorola Turns to HomeRF 2.0
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Proxim Inc. Monday received a promise of continued support from Motorola Broadband Communications Sector for wireless networking products based on the next-generation HomeRF 2.0 standard -- a frequency hopping technology that boasts data transmission rates of 10 megabits per second (Mbps).
In an expansion of a three-year deal, Motorola will continue integrating Proxim's HomeRF 2.0 technology into its high-speed cable modems, IP-based home networking gateways and other solutions. Motorola also pledged to continue offering Proxim's HomeRF-based USB and PC cards and Ethernet gateway under its private label.
For gear makers like Motorola and even moreso for HomeRF developers such as Proxim, a lot is certainly on the line. While 5 percent of U.S. households currently have a PC network in place, as many as 15 percent will have one in five years. Of that, wireless networking will account for 40 percent of all those home networks, analysts said.
The news is a bounty for Proxim, which lost Intel as a backer for HomeRF when the chipmaker decided to go with the increasingly popular 802.11b, or Wi-Fi standard in March. Despite backers such as Compaq, Motorola, Siemens to name a few, HomeRF is now considered by many analysts to be a pioneering standard that is falling by the wayside. While companies such as Intel had tapped HomeRF over Wi-Fi in the past because it is cheaper, Wi-Fi seems to be gaining popularity over HomeRF with its speed and, it should be noted, falling prices. Wi-Fi moves data at 11 mbps.
But with HomeRF first to the market and the emergence of another frequency-hopping technology called Bluetooth, there are no clear cut winners at this point despite the fact that most analysts and businesses lean heavily toward Wi-Fi. The convolution has led some research firms to say that the standards may just have to work together. For instance, Gartner Dataquest analysts said there will be almost 800 million worldwide wireless data users by 2004, so enterprises must get prepared to support these technologies. Gartner believes the flood of new mobile devices in the enterprise will force at least 50 percent of Fortune 2000 companies to support three distinct solutions (low-speed wireless data only, voice plus Web access and high-speed wireless LAN access).
"Enterprises will be well-advised to remember that no single wireless access network topology will meet anywhere near 80 percent of the requirements of enterprise knowledge workers," said Bob Egan, vice president and research director for Gartner. "To a large extent, end users' network requirements will be driven by the devices they carry, their job roles and their mobility."
As Motorola's cable modems offer Internet access at speeds up to 100 times faster than traditional phone modems, the firm feels it will add additional value by enabling home users to roam about their homes to conduct business or other functions.
Motorola's Home Gateway platforms allow for wireless and wired connectivity to homes that already have a broadband access device but require the benefits of the home network. The devices, which HomeRF will power, provide the broadband experience anywhere inside and around the home.
Senior Vice President and General Manager of Motorola's IP Systems Group Dan Moloney, played up consumer advantages of his company's Home Gateway products.
"High-speed Internet access coupled with wireless home networking technology can enable people to connect both their internal and outside worlds via their PCs, TVs and other household electronic devices -- and experience expanded entertainment, communication and productivity services," Moloney said.
Proxim and Motorola will demonstrate the new streaming media capabilities of the HomeRF 2.0 technology at the National Cable Telecommunications Association's (NCTA) Cable 2001 Annual Convention and Exposition Monday through Wednesday this week in Chicago.