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NetGear partnership to expand Asian Wi-Fi sales

The company teams with Legend Group in China and Softbank BB in Japan to sell Wi-Fi products, an effort to increase sales in Asia--the world's second largest market for Wi-Fi networking gear.

NetGear has teamed with Legend Group in China and Softbank BB in Japan to sell Wi-Fi products, an effort to increase sales in Asia--the world's second largest market for Wi-Fi networking gear.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based NetGear announced the partnerships Friday, and sales of products have already begun. The company sees the Asian market as a major opportunity to improve its position worldwide.

In the third quarter, the Asia-Pacific region had the second largest market for Wi-Fi gear sales, at 18 percent of the global total. North America was No. 1, with more than 60 percent. Japan, China and South Korea are the top three countries in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of gear sales, according to research firm Synergy Research Group.


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NetGear's distribution deal with Softbank is exclusive in Japan, with Softbank reselling 802.11g and 802.11b based wireless products, such as routers, client cards and USB adapters, through retail stores and system integrators.

In China, Legend and NetGear are co-branding wired and wireless products for the small office, home office--or SOHO--market in retail stores. Legend, a major PC maker, is including NetGear products with its desktop and notebook PCs and will also sell gateways and switches via Internet service providers to broadband carriers in China.

Legend will sell access points, routers, gateways, client cards and USB adapters based on all the Wi-Fi standards.

One possible complication in the Chinese market is a security specification, called Wired Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI), that the government expects all Wi-Fi related equipment to comply with in order to be imported into China or manufactured or sold there.

WAPI was developed by agencies within the Chinese government. Industry groups, such as the Wi-Fi Alliance, and manufacturers are in early stages of discussions to understand the specification and how the Chinese government plans to enforce it.

NetGear CEO Patrick Lo said the issue is more of a concern for chipset makers but added that with its influence on such manufacturers and its partnership with Legend, NetGear will be able to apply pressure where it is needed to help resolve the security issues.

"Everyone has a vested interest, so I'm pretty confident we'll be able to figure this out and that it won't affect business," Lo said.

The mandate from the Chinese government to meet the WAPI requirement went into effect Dec. 1. Manufacturers that already had inventory in the country have until June to adapt those products so that they use the WAPI standard, according to a statement for the Standardization Administration of China, which manages standards in various industries in that country. The same holds true for contracts signed by Dec. 1 for future devices.