Linksys Beefs Up Network Wireless Play

Vendor adds new products, forges partnerships to boost integrator sales.

June 3, 2004

3 Min Read
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Cisco Systems' Linksys division is beefing up its aggressively priced home networking product arsenal with a new wireless gateway, network storage product and partnerships.

At the top of the list for digital integrators is the Linksys Wireless G Cable Gateway. With a street price of $179, the Gateway eliminates the need for three separate offerings: modem, router and access point. The product allows cable companies and other service providers to deliver additional IP services, including music, video, storage, home automation and appliance connectivity. "This will be the core of the home network," says Allen Powell, Linksys director of channel sales. "We believe this will be our lead home network offering."

Linksys is also teaming with Maxtor on a NAS device called Network Storage Link that connects USB 2.0 hard drives directly to an Ethernet network. With a street price of $129, the device connects USB 1.1 or 2.0 disk drive and flash disks directly to a network, letting homes and businesses share photo, music and data files by user name or group.

Frank Basanta, director of technology at Systems Solutions, a New York integrator, says the Wireless G Cable Gateway is a "home run" that provides customers with more bang for the buck, reduces installation time and eliminates multiple failure points. Basanta also gives a thumbs-up to the Network Storage Link. "Most people are connecting two or three machines to the network," he says. They have their machine, sons and daughters have theirs, and the wife may be running a home business from another, he adds.

The Network Storage Link and the Wireless G Cable Gateway are available through Linksys distributors, including Ingram Micro, Tech Data and D&H Distributing.On the partnership front, Linksys inked a deal with Boingo Wireless on a joint Hot Spot in a Box program. The program creates commercial Wi-Fi hot-spot business opportunities for home network integrators targeting small businesses that want to make high-speed wireless Internet access available to their customers.

John Foeldi, vice president of operations at Total Business Integration, a Linksys solution provider in Orange, Calif., is excited about the Boingo opportunity and the new product lineup. "[The Gateway] is going to allow us to network the home for less money and make it a little easier," he says. "Right now it's expensive to get the three separate offerings." He estimates the offering could save customers that were looking at the three separate products as much as $150.

Finally, Linksys inked a pact with Comcast to include the Wireless G Cable Gateway in a Comcast Home Networking offering to millions of high-speed Internet customers. Comcast customers who sign up for the service receive a Linksys Wireless G Cable Gateway, along with network adapters for connecting up to five computers. The service includes installation, multiple levels of security, and increased downstream speed of up to 4 Mbps.

Some VARs say they expect to gain additional business from customers who want deeper and more personal local service than Comcast can provide. In addition, customers may opt to buy the product from solution providers rather than lease it from Comcast as part of a package, Powell says.

Tom Derosier, co-owner of CPUGuys, a Hanson, Mass., integrator, predicts Comcast is going to run into problems if it does not not embrace digital integrators. "If Comcast offered this through white-box builders and integrators, it would have a chance of being successful for everybody," he says. "If they don't, they are going to have lots of technical trouble out there that they are not going to be able to solve."0

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