Sprint Bolstering Fixed Wireless

FRAMINGHAM (07/20/2000) - Sprint Corp.'s Broadband Wireless Group is planning to let customers access their corporate networks from remote or home offices over Sprint's wireless multichannel multipoint distribution service (MMDS) network. Sprint is also developing wireless LAN features that make it easier for users to connect to Sprint's network.

Sprint Broadband Direct fixed wireless Internet access customers are now testing Sprint's new VPN service features, says Evan Conway, a marketing executive with Sprint Broadband Wireless. Conway would not elaborate on the specific equipment or encryption technology that Sprint will support, but says customers can expect security features that are typically associated with VPNs such as tunneling and authentication.

Sprint plans to support its fixed wireless VPN service over its high-speed MMDS network at competitive rates. Sprint is charging its customers $40 per month for its Internet access services that support 256K bit/sec upstream and 2M bit/sec downstream. Sprint has not officially announced its VPN service and pricing is not yet available.

"IP networking is driving MMDS, [local multipoint distribution service], DSL and cable modem services providers to offer VPN services," says Chris Whitely, project manager at Insight Research Corp., a Parsippany, N.J., consulting firm.

Businesses want to offer employees flexible access to their corporate networks, he says.

Sprint's new service plans also include adding wireless LAN support, Conway says. Sprint is testing two Lucent wireless LAN systems. The first includes a typical antenna and a wireless LAN system that will enable Internet access from several locations within an office or home.

The second system would decrease the line-of-site issues typically associated with MMDS service, Conway says. Instead of deploying an antenna outside an office or home, customers would use a PC Card with a small antenna attached.

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