Telecommuters, remote users get easier connections

Telecommuters, remote users get easier connections

By Mark A. Kellner

Special to GCN


DANA POINT, Calif.'The Digital Living Room conference here last month showed new ways agency telecommuters and travelers can connect to their office networks.

The event demonstrated airborne Internet connectivity, first seen in the Defense Department's Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration exercises during the late 1990s.

Commercial aircraft late next year will use a JWID-style flat-panel array antenna to link to Earthbound intranets and the Internet.

The conference, sponsored by Upside Media Inc. of San Francisco, featured demonstrations of broadband applications for telecommuters.

3Com Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., showed its HomeConnect gateway, which connects broadband digital subscriber line or cable Internet service to a 10- or 100-Mbps Ethernet at a worker's house.

3Com is billing the $249 gateway product as an efficient way to share a high-speed connection to the Internet. It incorporates a firewall, and 3Com claimed an average user can set it all up in 15 minutes.

'Home networks demand that one computer be the 'always-on' host,' said Brian Lazear, a 3Com product manager. The HomeConnect gateway takes the burden off the host computer and improves Internet security, he said.

Meanwhile, federal users who travel by air can have the same Internet access first demonstrated aboard the Air Force's Speckled Trout, a Boeing C-135 aircraft modified for JWID.

Using the Connexion mobile broadband service from Boeing Co. of Seattle, commercial airlines will sell in-flight access to the Internet, e-mail and television in real time.

Stanley Deal, a Boeing project director, told the Digital Living Room audience that in-flight connectivity fees are estimated to be $10 to $25 per hour; flight segment pricing also is possible.

A user must have a notebook PC with an Ethernet card and cable to hook into the onboard network and then out to the Internet. In-seat power will also be available from Connexion, he said.

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