NEW YORK -As Panasonic's first broadband-based residential gateway has started to infiltrate retailers, the company detailed its plans to expand this market in the coming year.
The Concourse Broadband Networking Gateway, $249 suggested retail price, is now entering CompUSA, CDW and J & R Computer World. Panasonic initially is targeting broadband-equipped consumers and small office owners looking to create simple PC-to-PC networks, but the Concourse can be networked with current and upcoming products such as Internet radios, TVs and other entertainment devices.
The Concourse can create an Ethernet, Home PNA and wireless-based network or a combination of the three, said Frank Lasorsa, Panasonic's assistant general manager, home networking department. To deliver the wireless network, Panasonic, along with co-developer ShareWave, is using parts of the 802.11E specification that is now under development and expected to be adopted by the industry in 2002.
Lasorsa said 802.11B, the current specification, did not perform well at the 2.4GHz frequency the gateway uses due to interference picked up by such common household products as microwaves and 2.4GHz cordless phones. But the new specification is able to eliminate this problem.
With the purchase of an optional network PC card, $149 suggested retail price, a notebook computer can be integrated into the network, and Panasonic is now developing a wireless interface for use with desktop PCs.
One of the first add-on products for the Concourse is the Panasonic Network Camera. It connects directly into the Concourse as a security device. It will ship in June or July with a $399 suggested retail price.
Lasorsa would not comment on the number of Concourse's that Panasonic expects to ship this year, but he said that with 30 million multi-PC homes in the United States, the market potential is huge.