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HP vows support for WLAN 'hot spots'

More details are emerging from Hewlett-Packard Co.’s pledge last month to support the concept of wireless LAN ''hot spots'' with a new initiative aimed at providing high-speed wireless access points in large, public areas, such as airports, hotels and restaurants.

HP officials used the stage of New York’s TechxNY conference (formerly PC Expo) to build a system of 802.11 access points from which users can log on to the Internet with either a wireless 802.11 connection or a Bluetooth link. The company’s new services group will offer IT infrastructure support to public venues worldwide.

The company plans to sell customized bundles that include wireless access points and back-end services for subscriptions and billing.

Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP Services, said that once built, the new system can link mobile workers to their enterprise resources, truly extending the reach of business. With WLAN solutions already being implemented in airports, retail chains, hotels and other public venues, HP brings considerable expertise in IT infrastructure services and enabling infrastructure to support mobility. Livermore contended that ''HP addresses the full spectrum of the wireless connectivity opportunity better than any other technology company.''

HP also outlined plans to offer new notebooks and iPAQ handhelds that can take advantage of wireless networks via Bluetooth and 802.11 standards to connect users to enterprise applications and the Internet.

Although wireless technologies have been slow to penetrate the U.S. market, HP officials pointed to the success of Spain’s Kubi Wireless, with which the company partners to deliver services and infrastructure. Kubi Wireless is currently deploying wireless hot spots in hotels that cater to business travelers and conferences.

Researchers at Analysis Consulting expect the number of 802.11 wireless hot spots in public venues to grow to 41,000 and reach 21 million users worldwide by 2007.

Not to be left off the WLAN bandwagon, IBM announced that it plans to bring Nokia’s WLAN solutions to corporate users, and will assist both telecom operators and wireless Internet service providers that may look to offer hot-spot services.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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