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3Com ships equipment to network buildings

The company unveils its new strategy to wire apartments, hotels, airport lounges and offices with high-speed Internet access.

3Com today unveiled a new strategy to wire apartments, hotels, airport lounges and offices with high-speed Internet access.

As expected, 3Com today announced a new division and began shipping new networking equipment that will allow owners of apartments, hotels and office buildings to offer high-speed Net access to their tenants.

3Com today also announced partnerships with service providers, including Cincinnati Bell Telephone, which will offer property owners the ability to network their buildings and offer digital subscriber line (DSL) connections and Web services.

With the move, 3Com is competing against other companies, including Tut Systems and Elastic Networks, which are selling networking gear that connects multi-tenant buildings to the Net. The U.S. market is expected to grow from $371 million this year to nearly $2 billion by 2004.

The new initiative is part of 3Com's plans to revitalize the company after more than a year of stagnant revenue growth. 3Com president Bruce Claflin today expects the new 3Com division will earn several hundred million dollars in revenue in the next two or three years.

Claflin today said the new equipment--called Visitor and Community Network System--will allow service providers to offer tenants audio and video services, such as music and movies on demand, as well as the ability to make phone calls over the Net.

The equipment will also allow service providers and building owners to offer Web portal sites, allowing tenants to reserve meeting rooms or tennis courts, for example. The technology will send voice, video and data over the building's regular phone lines.

As part of today's announcement, 3Com has partnered with a handful of companies. Cincinnati Bell Telephone, Canadian-based MDU Communications International and CAIS Internet will use 3Com's equipment to provide Internet access to multi-tenant buildings. StarView, a Cable TV operator for hotels and apartments, will also expand its services using 3Com's equipment.