3Com forms wireless alliance with Symbol

3Com's expected leap into wireless LANs later this year will leverage upcoming products from Symbol Technologies -- including portable phones, adapters, and hubs -- letting users make calls or exchange data across the LAN from anywhere within a networked building or campus.

Sources said 3Com will turn to Symbol for its long-awaited wireless LAN line-up, which will be based on the emerging 11Mbps wireless standard being developed by the IEEE. The standard is slated to be approved early next year.

Symbol -- a manufacturer of barcode readers for retail stores -- also makes hubs, network interface cards, portable phones, and Palm III-based handheld computers for wireless LANs.

Palm devices may later become part of the 3Com wireless LANs, sources said.

Some observers believe that the advent of standard wireless LANs with performance speed roughly equal to Ethernet will help drive wireless LANs into enterprises. The networks could be deployed alongside conventional wired LANs and would allow users to remain connected as they move around a building or campus.

LAN-based portable phones would allow those employees to remain connected even more easily, observers said.

Symbol's current wireless LAN products use the existing IEEE 802.11 standard for 1Mbps to 2Mbps throughput.

Officials at 3Com and Symbol declined to comment.

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