3Com carves Bluetooth, 802.11 strategy

3Com Corp. will not endorse either the Bluetooth or the 802.11 wireless standard if it means neglecting the other one, according to company officials.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has officially broken its silence on the high-speed 802.11 standard, announcing that, by mid-2002, it would roll out 5GHz solutions based on 802.11a. The solutions will include PC network cards and embedded products, such as mini-PCI cards and internal embedded solutions that will be sold to PC makers.

Even so, 3Com will continue to support 802.11b as well as Bluetooth, according to Troy Holtby, a 3Com product manager.

"We don't believe that either [Bluetooth or 802.11] is going to be the prevalent technology, and the other one is going to die," Holtby said Tuesday.

Rather, 3Com's strategy will be to support both Bluetooth and 802.11, because in the long run, enterprises will need to adopt both, Holtby said.

"These technologies complement each other more than they compete," he explained. "It's not an issue of which technology's going to win; it's which technology is the right tool for the job you're trying to do. There are instances where you wouldn't want to use one or the other, but that doesn't negate the fact that you're eventually going to need both."

Hence, the company's overarching goal is universal connectivity, regardless of which access standard underpins the communications channel.

"The interaction with devices must be seamless to the end-user," Holtby said, "so that you don't have to remember that when you're printing in the office, you have to do this, and when you're printing over Bluetooth, you have to do this."

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