Dell rolls out wireless networking kit

Dell 4800LT offers low-cost, high-bandwidth wireless networking for as many as 15 PCs

Dell Computer is working to bring high-speed wireless networking to the home.

The company announced Wednesday an 11Mb wireless networking product it says will benefit users by offering low-cost, high-bandwidth wireless networking for as many as 15 PCs.

For customers, Dell says, its Dell 4800LT wireless networking kit, available now, should be easy to set up and will provide snappy performance. It would allow, for example, a person to roam around his or her house with a notebook PC while surfing the Web, or let a desktop user to send a document to a printer in another room.

"Fundamentally (the benefit) is portability and flexibility," said Frank Hanzlik , a senior manager in Dell's Home and Small Business Product Group. Users could "surf the Web from the couch."

The kit, which operates on 802.11 radio frequency with a range of up to 150 feet, consists of either a PCI card for a desktop PC or a PC Card for a notebook. It will allow PCs to share Internet access, share files and share a peripheral device, such as a printer. Because of the product's high bandwidth, users could also employ the network for online gaming or sharing video, Dell officials said.

The prices will be $179 (£107) for the desktop card and $139 for the notebook card. The cards will not require the use of a base station to operate. Instead, a user can designate one PC as a gateway or server, which provides Internet access, files and other services to the other networked PCs.

Users who wish to purchase the wireless networking product can have its cards preinstalled in new systems purchased from Dell or purchase a Customer Kit, which provides the card, software and a how-to video on setting up the network.

The kit will work with any 200MHz or faster PC with a minimum of 32MB of RAM, provided that it employs a PCI bus if it's a desktop or has a PC Card slot if it's a notebook. Microsoft's Windows 95 or 98 is also required

The kit was developed by Dell and Aironet Wireless Communications, a wireless LAN hardware provider, based in Akron, Ohio. It will be available, initially, only directly from Dell.

Dell, next year, will add a base station unit to this wireless product line. The base station will include an Ethernet connection, which will allow users to employ it as a gateway to broadband Internet access, via cable or digital subscriber line (DSL) modems.