Gateway releases wireless networking products

Gateway Inc. unveiled several new products to allow PC users to connect to wireless networks Thursday, as part of its year-long rollout of new products.

The new wireless routers, USB (universal serial bus) adapters, and PC cards use the 802.11g and 802.11b standards for wireless networking. The 802.11g standard enables wireless connections as fast as 54M bps (bits per second), although in most cases users will experience connection speeds of around 20M bps. The 802.11b standard allows connections as fast as 11 bps, but is also somewhat slower in most cases.

Gateway on Thursday introduced an 802.11g router at US$99 and an 802.11b router at $69. The Poway, California, company also released a $59 wireless USB adapter that connects desktop PCs to 802.11b wireless networks via a USB port, and a $69 PCI adapter that is installed inside a PC's case through a PCI (peripheral component interconnect) slot for connections to 802.11g networks.

For notebook users, Gateway now offers two PC cards for wireless networking. The Gateway 802.11g Cardbus Card costs $59, and the Gateway 802.11b card costs $49.

The products based on the 802.11g standard use chipsets from Broadcom Corp. Gateway used a chipset from Intersil Corp. for the PC card and USB adapter, and a chipset from Marvell Semiconductor Inc. in the 802.11b router.

Gateway currently offers products from Linksys Group Inc. that use the 802.11a standard, said John Schindler, manager of connectivity products at Gateway. The company is looking into developing its own products based on that standard for high-bandwidth applications, but hasn't seen enough demand from consumers to justify its own product at this time, he said.

The 802.11a standard enables connection speeds as fast as the 802.11g standard, but with a much shorter range. 802.11a products also run on a different frequency from 802.11b and 802.11g products, and are therefore incompatible with products based on those standards.

Gateway is trying to convince consumers and business customers that it's not just a PC company anymore. A plethora of new products have been introduced by the company in hopes of building new revenue streams from higher growth businesses such as wireless products, consumer electronics, and servers.

However, the company continues to post losses, and is cutting costs as it builds its new strategy. Gateway announced Wednesday that it would outsource some of its manufacturing and assembly jobs, cutting 450 jobs from its Hampton, Virginia, plant with plans for more cuts at its facilities in South Dakota.

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