Linksys is to give the voice-over-IP business a fillip, with a range of VOIP products due by the end of this year. It is developing both IP adapters for existing analogue corded and cordless handsets, and wireless IP phones.
The VOIP gear will be preconfigured with a 12-month IP telephony service, to make them simpler to set up and use. "All these services have very proprietary settings even though they're SIP," said Mike Wagner, Linksys marketing director.
He added that Linksys is also working through its wireless products, replacing 11Mbit/s versions with 54Mbit/s 802.11g models. The latest of these is a 11g range expander designed to fill in dead spots in wireless networks. It's a $US$146 device that automatically configures itself to pick up the existing WLAN and transmit the signal onwards.
Although Linksys is now owned by Cisco Systems, Wagner says that the two differentiate themselves in several ways, notably that Cisco's wireless gear has enterprise management tools, stronger radios and more sophisticated load balancing. "Then again, their access points are US$500 and ours are under US$100," he said.
Linksys' focus on ease of setup for consumers is also paying off with increasing sales to businesses, especially for devices such as its NAS head which can attach two USB hard disks straight onto a wired Ethernet as networked storage. "Businesses like our wireless VPN solution which can attach to a standard VPN client too," he says.
Linksys is also readying a new version of its popular wired/wireless print server. Due in January, this will be half the cost and size of earlier models because the company has eliminated the parallel printer port, making it USB-only.