Simplicity and affordability are the selling features 3Com is using to promote its newest product, the 11Mbps Wireless LAN building-to-building bridge.
David Morelli, communications manager at 3Com in Toronto, said this product is geared to help both businesses and institutions like schools and hospitals wire all their buildings without having the dig up pavement.
"You are able to extend your network without dragging lines at a fraction of the cost and with all the simplicity that would make it the right choice for an educational institution or in health-care settings," he said. " We are looking at both businesses and institutions that would have multiple buildings. In a health care situation, where there is almost always multiple buildings and where they don't want to start dragging wire, they are able to do it wirelessly at a fraction of the cost and compared to the T-1 line, at a nearly 10 times the speed."
John Edwards, co-owner and vice-president at Dover Building Supply Inc. in Dover Delaware said this product was a big advantage over his old methods.
"We love it," he said. "For the building-to-building, we used to have to use dial-up modems and that took forever. With this wireless, it just takes a second and we are in. It's faster and it's cleaner and we haven't had any downtime since we got it."
Edwards said this was also much less expensive than the fibre-optics they had considered.
"We have the ability with this system to go through the store with a laptop and do checks without dragging any cords around," he said. "We can walk through the yard and do purchase orders with it."
Morelli said this product is also more secure than other LANs. It supports both 40- and 128-bit encryption.
"This makes it that much harder for someone to hack into systems while you are sending information between buildings and in health-care settings, that is a significant factor," he said, adding that it is equally secure for temporary situations. "If they need to temporarily set up a network between buildings, this is really the only option. If you have a conference in different buildings, you can just set them up and then when it's over, take them down."
Jason Smolek, research analyst, enterprise networks, with IDC in Boston, said this product was what 3Com was missing for the last year. He added that while the 3Com product may be easy to work with and inexpensive, there is one major drawback.
"It's cheaper than the Cisco bridges, but there are limitations with the 3Com bridges and that is distance," he said, adding that some businesses have bridges that go for miles. "It's only within about 300 feet, and that's why it's so much cheaper - like [U.S.]$600."