Linksys Dual-Band Router May Offer New Prospects for VARs

Cisco Systems subsidiary Linksys today debuted a dual-band wireless router and notebook adapter which provide faster wireless network speeds and faster transmission speeds for streaming rich content. The company is positioning the devices as the solution to growing demand for downloaded rich media in the home.

"As more people put more content on their networks, this router will give the home user a better experience," says Allen Powell, senior director for Linksys Channel Operations. "It assists particularly around media center extenders, which move content from your PC to your television."

Both the Ultra RangePlus Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router (WRT600N, pictured) and the Ultra RangePlus Dual-Band Wireless-N Notebook Adapter (WPC600NZ) have the ability to transmit in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless spectrum simultaneously. The router transfers rich media, such as video, over the 5GHz spectrum through a media adapter connected to the TV. The media adapter, (Apple TV, for example) then communicates with the router to access content on the network or on the Internet.

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Increased demand for rich media streaming is good news for VARs, says Powell. "The more information you move around, the more opportunities there are for resellers installing and servicing small business and consumers as well," he says. "Because a simultaneous dual-brand router enables more applications and devices, home integrators can set up more devices on the network." It is important that network is installed properly, Powell says. "We see a big opportunity in the connected home space," he says.

While suggesting the opportunities for systems integrators is growing, Linksys is simultaneously making home setup easier. The Linksys Easy Link Advisor (LELA), a setup guide included with the router, helps users integrate the router with their PC. "When you set up the router and the media adapters or other devices on the network, you tell it which network you want it assigned to," says Karen Sohl, director of worldwide corporate communications. "We instituted the LELA program to help make it easier."

NEXT: CEO Skeptical About Market Demand

Mark Leidig, president and CEO of Ambiance Systems, a Clifton Park, NY-based systems integrator, says while demand for streaming rich media will certainly grow, he remains skeptical about market demand -- not to mention network reliability.

"Although a lot of the early adopters have bought into Apple TV-style concepts, the demand is not nearly out there as much as the manufacturers think it is," he says. "I think wireless has to come a much longer way in order for it to be successful."

Another issue is Linksys' decision to deploy the 5GHz spectrum. "Potentially it's a really good solution -- here's not a lot of competition on that bandwidth," he says. "But 5GHz is a shorter wavelength, so it's harder to transmit rich media for a longer distance."

Sohl says Linksys resolved that issue. "That is true of the bandwidth in 802.11a technology," she says. "But the 5GHz spectrum range, as part of the 802.11n draft spec, is equal to the range you'd find in the 2.4Ghz."

The concept certainly sounds attractive, Leidig says, but the real-world demands of streaming rich media leave him unconvinced such technology has matured sufficiently. "People think it's just something you can throw on top of a desk and it will work," he says. "We run into issues with noise in people's houses that require major tweaks."

The router also comes equipped with Storage Link, which allows the user to plug in a USB device to the router and make the contents of that device available to anyone connected to the server. The WRT600N router and WPC600N notebook adapter retail for $279.99 and $99.99, respectively. Both are immediately available through Linksys online resellers.