Verizon Pitches WLANs To Small Businesses

On Friday, the New York-based carrier said it's now expanding its wireless LAN service to new locations in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The company launched its WLAN product in the Boston area late last fall.

Verizon's WLAN service, based on Wi-Fi (802.11) specifications, will now be available in the following areas: New York City and Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York; Newark, Jersey City, Trenton and the counties of Bergen, Passaic, Middlesex, Somerset, Monmouth and Ocean in New Jersey; Baltimore, Maryland; Springfield, Mass.; Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and the Lancaster-Reading-Allentown metro area in Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C., and adjacent suburbs in Maryland and northern Virginia; and Norfolk, Petersburg, Richmond and Virginia Beach, Va.

Small businesses can purchase the WLAN product as a stand-alone service, or they can integrate it with network transport services such as T1, ATM and frame relay, according to Verizon. The carrier said it will design and install the customers' networks, using Proxim ORiNOCO 802.11a/b WLAN equipment, as well as provide technical support.

Pricing depends on the number of users and the range of a company's operations, and installation charges are based on the customer's network configuration, according to Verizon.

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"Businesses can quickly install or expand their office networks without disrupting the office for rewiring--and at installation and maintenance prices that are significantly lower than those for hard-wired networks," said Rahman Karriem, executive director of product management at Verizon, in a statement. "In addition, wireless LANs enable workers to be much more productive. They can leave their cubicles or workstations, go to the cafeteria or a conference room, and still remain connected to their corporate network resources."

The WLAN service expansion reflects other efforts by Verizon to sell networking services to the small-business market. For example, the carrier said late last month that it aims to expand its broadband capabilities by nearly 30 percent this year and make its DSL service available to an additional 10 million homes and businesses, notably small companies. Plans call for the carrier to add more than 10 million new lines to the 36 million now equipped with its DSL service.

"We firmly believe there will be a next phase of industry growth founded on high-speed, always-on networks that enable a whole new generation of products for the home and small business," said Verizon Vice Chairman Lawrence Babbio in a statement.

Small businesses are a key growth market for DSL and other online services, Verizon said. Only 46 percent of small businesses with Web access use high-speed connections, according to Verizon's 2002 Small Business Internet Survey. Also, 96 percent of small businesses polled said they plan to maintain or hike their Internet expenditures in 2003, the study said.