Dell links to wireless LAN

TrueMobile brand is Dell's latest salvo in the competition to unwire laptop users

On Tuesday, Dell Computer took the wraps off a new wireless LAN brand to complement its existing third-party wireless offerings.

Wireless network connectivity is expected to boom in the next few months, with new technologies, such as Bluetooth, entering the fray. It is attractive for corporate users who work away from their desks, but on the company network, and for students who need simple access to a university network.

Dell's TrueMobile conforms to the IEEE 802.11b, 11Mbit/s standard also adopted by Apple and Compaq. It consists of a PCI card for the laptop and a system of network-connected transceivers, which must be in line-of-sight connection to operate properly. It complements a previous system Dell launched in September using technology from AiroNet.

The introduction of Dell's own in-house brand is seen as a move to compete with Compaq, which rolled out an in-house wireless LAN product in October. The adapter cards run at $199 (about £121) and the access point devices are $999 each (about £620).

Dell sees a big future for wireless LAN in the corporate world. "Corporate customers are installing wireless LAN technology to improve the productivity of their employees, wherever they happen to be on the premises," said Tim Peters, vice president of Dell Latitude notebook business, in a prepared statement.

Dell also introduced two sets of notebook computers for the US on Tuesday. The Latitude CPx J650GT, aimed at corporate users with cash to spend, uses a 650MHz Mobile Pentium III, while the Latitude CPT S500GT and CPT S450ST use the budget-oriented Celeron processor at speeds of 500MHz and 400MHz, respectively.

The TrueMobile announcement comes as the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association launches its Wireless 2000 show in New Orleans this week.

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