today unveiled a new family of wireless networking products — access points, gateways and PC cards — for the small or home office and hotspot locations.
The company said the gear, unveiled today at the CeBIT America trade show in New York, meets 802.11g standards (which are five times faster than the current 802.11b mark) and features bolstered security.
“3Com is able to offer a competitively priced solution with 54 Mbps data rate and 256-bit security encryption at a distance of over 300 feet from the access point to PC card,” said Robert Winch, 3Com’s director, responsible for the offering.
The OfficeConnect Wireless 11g PC Card will ship this month and cost $79. The access points and gateways will ship next month and cost $135 and $125 respectively.
The move is aimed at helping Marlborough, Mass.-based 3Com compete in the booming consumer and small business Wi-Fi business which is led by Linksys, recently bought by Cisco for $500 million. Other players in the field include Symbol Technologies and D-Link and Netgear.
According to Gartner Group, shipments of wireless networking equipment will grow at a 30 percent compound annual growth rate through 2007 while Wi-Fi public hotspot gateways will grow at a 65 percent annual clip.
3Com believes 802.11g gives it an edge. The standard combines the 54 megabit per second speed of 802.11a and the 328-foot range associated with 802.11b.
And the new Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) strengthens the security of wireless packets to 256-bit encryption – in essence, better scrambling techniques for wireless data transmissions so the risk of unauthorized access is reduced.
The equipment has recently been tested at small businesses including Current Communications, a Portland, Ore., producer of multimedia sales training and marketing materials.
“Re-cabling the office to add new connectivity ports and high-speed connections was too costly,” said Jay Rymeski, Current’s CEO. “However, when we plugged in 3Com’s new OfficeConnect Wireless 11g solution, we instantly tripled our throughput from anywhere in the office and saved the expense of hiring a professional to reconfigure the network.”