3Com speeds into hotels, airports

Making good on its plans to push into new markets, Santa Clara, California-based 3Com on Monday unveiled a corporate division that will develop products to bring high-speed broadband services to hotels, housing complexes, and airports.

Based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, 3Com's Visitor-Based Networking division will deliver technology enabling residential complexes or prewired hotels to inexpensively offer DSL-speed broadband services over existing phone lines, officials said.

Initially targeted at ISPs and ASPs (application service providers), 3Com's Visitor and Community Networks (VCN) product set includes a VCN Access Point for hotel or multiple-dwelling-unit desktops, a 24-port VCN Concentrator that provides voice and data over existing phone lines, and a VCN Server that provides portal access to services for hotels and merchants, 3Com officials said.

"The VBN division is designed to leverage demand for broadband access to bring facility-based internet access to businesses, hotels, and airports," said Bruce Claflin, 3Com president and COO. "The VCN system relies on Ethernet and existing copper phone wires to deliver high-speed internet access and LAN services on a facility basis. We think Ethernet has a bright future in broadband."

The products are built on digital subscriber loop technology called Ethernet over VDSL (Voice over DSL), which enables 10Mbps speeds reaching 4000 feet on a single pair of copper wires, 3Com officials said.

The applications combine broadband connectivity with value-added services, allowing hotels, for example, to provide broadband Internet access and a customised local portal to each room, 3Com officials said.

As part of the announcement, 3Com officials also revealed partnerships with several service providers. CAIS Internet plans to implement the VCN system in hotels and airport lounges. Cincinnati Bell is launching a new Internet service for multiple dwelling units based on 3Com's VCN. And MDU Communications plans to offer internet services in the United States and Canada using the VCN system.

"Broadband is not just about speed. For service providers VCN makes deploying broadband as easy as a utility," Claflin said.

"End users can get an instant, always-on connection, and access to location-specific services such as banking, restaurant information, and concierge, through a value-added portal service."

3Com officials said additional services, such as Direct TV, wireless data, and Internet telephony, can be layered on top of the VCN technologies. Officials said that the company plans to incorporate its wireless LAN products into the solution in the near future.

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