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Intel targets schools with wireless LANs

So simple even teachers understand

Intel is looking to repeat its desktop success in the burgeoning wireless networking market and is hoping technophobic teachers will help them on their way.

Based on the 802.11b networking specification, which transmits data at up to 11Mbps in contrast to fixed line Ethernet’s 10Mbps, a wireless LAN (WLAN) uses radio frequency technology to send and receive data over the air, through walls, ceilings and cement structures without the need for wired cabling.

Intel is describing its 802.11b-based 2011 LAN range as a “stop gap” until a 5GHz frequency comes on tap – expected in 2002. This will allow data transmission speeds to double to 22Mbps. (Most current WLANs use the 2.4GHz frequency band).

According to Intel marketing director Andrew Greenhalgh, primary schools are ideal environments for WLANs. “There’s generally just one PC per class, but you usually need five PCs in one classroom and none in the others,” he said. “Wireless networking will be a real boon for teachers - most aren’t very good at IT. Now they can wheel computers around and be instantly connected.”

Intel is pushing a computers on wheels (COWs) initiative, which means PC and cart can roam seamlessly around the school, eliminating the time spent re-booting between sessions.

Other applications cited included streaming multimedia to support online classes and wireless internet and email access.

Intel is also pitching its WLAN products at organisations leasing temporary office space, allowing them to set up a network and then take the infrastructure with them when they move.

Quoting forecasts from analysts Frost and Sullivan, which indicate that the size of the WLAN market will treble in Europe from the this year’s 600000 units to 180000 units by 2003, Greenhalgh said Intel would be catapulted to the number one or two spot over the next two years.

In terms of costs customers are looking at paying a price premium of around 50% more than they would otherwise pay for a conventional fixed Ethernet LAN.

To kick-start its wireless campaign Intel is touting an introductory offer. Those ordering a starter pack for its 2011 LAN package will get 50% knocked off the usual £964 price point.

To benefit from the introductory price of £482, which is made up of one access point and two WLAN PC cards, orders have to be placed before 22 December. http:www.intel.co.uk/Europe/wireless/2.

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