San Mateo County Times

Intel touts hardware for home networking
Wednesday, April 07, 1999

By Liz Garone

Only recently, connecting even two home computers to each other and the Internet meant having to run multiple wires and telephone lines and drilling additional holes in the walls.

But now, new technologies allow up to 25 users in the same house to share printers, files and a single Internet connection. No drilling, wiring or additional phone lines are required.

This newest breed of home networking is accomplished through a number of tools, some visible, others not: from a tabletop device the size of a TV remote control to a chip set installed inside the PC.

Santa Clara-based Intel has joined the burgeoning home network market. On Tuesday, the company held a press conference in San Mateo and New York City, unveiling its own entry.

Intel's AnyPoint Home Network allows even the most novice computer users to turn their homes into networked computer work centers, according to Dan Sweeney, general manager of Intel's Home Networking division.

"We believe we've really delivered on the promise of home networking by making it powerful, simple and fast," Sweeney said.

The AnyPoint device, which resembles an external modem, plugs into one of the PC's unused ports. A starter pack, which can network two computers, retails for $189. Adding more computers costs an additional $99 per machine.

"I think it would be great for the first-time user," said Scott Taylor, a Montara software salesman out shopping Tuesday for a new PC. "A lot of people have trouble just turning their computers on."

There are currently 7.7 million households with at least two working PCs, according to the technology research firm Media Metrix. As the number of households with multiple PCs continues to grow, so does the need for home networking, according to Sweeney.

Intel is not the first Silicon Valley company to offer home networking.

Last November, Redwood City-based Alation Systems announced its own home networking technology, called HomeCast Open Protocol, available in a home networking system offered by Diamond Multimedia.

Alation's version is wireless and uses radio waves rather than phone or cable lines to connect computers, according to David Atlas, the company's vice president of marketing. Computers must be located within 150 feet of each other.

On Tuesday, Alation announced a new partnership with National Semiconductor to produce low-cost, wireless chip sets. Costs will be as low as $60 per computer.

Atlas said he doesn't see Intel's entry into the market as a threat.

"It raises the overall profile of home networking," he said. "There will always be different markets for different users."

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