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Dell wireless users get free network access

And 5GHz bandwidth brawl breaks out

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Wireless network provider Wayport has signed a deal with Dell to provide free network access to Dell's wireless notebook customers until 31 March.

According to a CNET report, although Dell is selling the deal as exclusive, Wayport has said it is open to anyone with the right kit, ie. a laptop equipped with 802.11b networking capabilities.

However, the network company confirmed that there would be exclusive deals for Dell customers in the future. For example, after the trial period, Dell customers would qualify for a further three free connections.

Greg Latson, the marketing director at Wayport, said: "We're more interested in the Dells of the world selling our product, rather than us going out and selling it ourselves."

Wayport uses the 802.11b standard for its network. This is, in terms of local connectivity, by far the race leader.

According to Dataquest, around two thirds chose 802.11b against alternative standards such as HomeRF and HiperLAN2. And, of course, if we are talking local connections only and don't mind too much about bandwidth, there is always Bluetooth.

Meanwhile, in the 5GHz arena, the HiperLAN2 group seems to be spoiling for a fight. It has run a rather confrontational spiel on its Web site.

It claims the existence of two standards in the 5GHz band has created "schism" in the 5GHz world. "For instance," the site complains, "802.11a is recognised everywhere except in Europe, while HiperLAN2 is recognised everywhere except Japan."

The Dataquest research forecasts that half of all corporations will have wireless networking by 2002, so the standards should all begin to shake out by then. ®

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