Linksys Inks Wireless G Cable Gateway Pact With Comcast

Under the pact, Comcast, the nation's top broadband provider, is offering what it is calling "Comcast Home Networking" to its current and new high-speed Internet customers. Users who sign up for the service receive a Linksys wireless gateway, along with network adapters for connecting up to five computers. The service includes installation, multiple levels of security, and increased downstream speed of up to 4 Mbps.

Linksys said the gateway is the first deployment of a gateway with CableHome, an industry standard that provides compatibility and interoperability with other cable home devices. The product allows cable providers to provide IP services to users including music, video, storage, home automation and appliance connectivity. Comcast has not yet deployed any such IP services.

The Linksys Wireless G Cable Gateway, which was unveiled as part of the Comcast pact, will also be available through Linksys distributors including Ingram Micro, Tech Data and D&H Distributing. The Linksys Wireless G product has a street price of about $179.

For VARs, the new Linksys Wireless G Cable Gateway product eliminates the need for three separate Linksys offerings--a modem, router and access point--that are now offered in the single Wireless G Cable Gateway product, according to Linksys.

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Linksys said it does not view the Comcast offering as competition for its Linksys home network integrators. The company said the deal is aimed at expanding the home network integration market.

Comcast, which was unavailable for immediate comment, said customers can simply add the home networking program by calling, clicking or e-mailing Comcast customer service.

In a prepared statement, Comcast Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Comcast Online Greg Butz said that Comcast Home Networking is a complete end-to-end service platform.

"If Comcast offers this through white-box builders and integrators, it has a chance of being successful for everybody," said Tom Derosier, co-owner of CPUGuys, a Hanson, Mass., integrator. "If they don't, they are going to have lots of technical trouble out there that they are not going to be able to solve."

Derosier said many home network-focused vendors underestimate the technical and logitstical issues surrounding wireless deployment. "Those problems cannot be solved with a phone call to Comcast," he said. "If Comcast and Linksys partner up with the VARs to do the integration, it will work. They should use the people that are in the field to make their wireless network bulletproof and secure. If they choose not to hook up with VARs, they are going down a path filled with trouble. The concept is awesome, but actual implementation is not just 'Plug it in and run a disk.' "