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Compaq to sell wireless networking device

The company will begin selling a new low-cost wireless home networking device, one of the first wireless home networking products aimed at the entry-level consumer.

Compaq Computer today announced it will begin selling a new low-cost wireless home networking device, one of the first wireless home networking products aimed at the entry-level consumer.

The device, Proxim's Symphony-HRF networking card, works with both laptops and desktop computers to set up wireless home networks. The add-on card is designed to allow home users to share computers and peripherals, including printers, without additional cords or wires.

Using a USB port on a desktop or a PC card slot on a notebook computer, the networking card uses the Home RF wireless networking standard. The cards are priced at $99 for customers also buying Presario desktop or notebook computers; individually, the networking devices are priced at $119.

The introduction of the Proxim cards via Compaq gives consumers an easier way to take advantage of the growing trend of wireless home networking. Many companies, including PC makers, Microsoft, Intel and other semiconductor firms, are pushing a vision of a networked home filled with smart, connected devices and appliances, communicating via the wireless Internet.

The market is expected to be huge: Home networking kit sales accounted for $137 million by the end of 1999 and could reach $281 million by 2000, according to a Cahners market research study. By 2003, however, the market is expected to skyrocket to $1.4 billion in sales.

"This product announcement is the first of many Internet-focused and connectivity-driven solutions from Compaq's consumer group," said Mike Larson, general manager of the consumer division at Compaq.

"As home computing and communicating change radically over the next five years, wireless networking is a critical step in bringing mobility and ease of use to consumers," he said.