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Intel goes home with networking

The company plans to roll out new home networking technology next month that will allow multiple computers within a home to communicate using already installed phone wires.

    Chip giant Intel hopes computer users will get the point.

    The company plans to roll out new home networking technology next month, called AnyPoint, that will allow multiple computers within a home to communicate using already installed phone wires, when used in conjunction with Microsoft's Windows operating system.

    Intel's AnyPoint product will consist of a networking card and associated software, as previously reported. The move comes as new modem-sharing technology is rolled into Microsoft's Windows 98 Second Edition, a minor upgrade expected this fall.

    The company plans to launch its new AnyPoint technology at bicoastal events in San Mateo, California and New York City April 6.

    Industry consultants the Yankee Group have said an increase in homes with multiple PCs and faster Internet access will drive home networking. Households with multiple PCs will increase from 12.4 percent of U.S. households in 1998 to 24.5 percent in 2001. The number of homes with cable or DSL Internet access will increase from 450,000 in 1999 to 7 million in 2002, according to the firm.

    Market watcher Cahners In-Stat believes the U.S. home networking market will reach $230 million by 1999 and grow to $1.4 billion by 2003.

    For Intel, AnyPoint represents the company's first stab at a home networking product, a nascent niche that has attracted the attention of high-profile start-ups such as Tut Systems as well as large networking companies like 3Com.

    The AnyPoint tools are based in part on a new Intel home networking chip that started shipping in volume in February.

    Intel's launch comes on the heels of increased ties focused on home networks between Intel's classic partner Microsoft and networking rival 3Com.

    No product availability information or pricing details were available, though Intel executives have said in the past that AnyPoint would cost less than $100 per PC. An Intel spokeswoman refused to comment on the company's plans.