MILPITAS, Calif. -- In another effort to expand into new markets, software-modem specialist PCTEL Inc. here today will take a step into the wireless business by announcing a line of chip- and systems-level products for OEMs.
The new products, to be demonstrated at next week's Comdex trade show in Las Vegas, will consist of a PC Card line based on its V.90-compatible, soft-modem technology and wireless chips from various third parties. The PC Card line can be bundled with separate chips that support three major wireless local-area networking standards?802.11, Bluetooth, and HomeRF.
Geared for notebook PCs and other portable products, the PC Card line is designed for wireless home-networking and related applications, said Mark Wilson, vice president of marketing for PCTEL. "What we are developing is a combination PC Card that will support V.90 as well as 802.11, Bluetooth, or HomeRF," Wilson said in an interview with SBN.
PCTEL will develop the devices for the V.90-based portion of the PC Card, but the company will source the wireless chips from third parties, Wilson said. PCTEL will sell the total solution in the form of a license or reference design kit to OEMs, he added.
The company will offer this product in the first quarter of 2001, but prices were not disclosed.
The products represents the company's efforts to expand into new markets. Founded in 1994, PCTEL is the leading supplier of software modems, a technology that handles the modem functions in software, not hardware. Soft-modems are designed to replace chip-level modem products from Conexant, Lucent, Texas Instruments, and others.
While software modems have yet to displace the hardware solutions, the market has become competitive. Also selling software modems are Conexant, ESS Technology, Motorola, and Smart Link.
The market for soft-modem technology remains strong, but PCTEL is looking for new opportunities to offset what could be a slowdown in the PC business. In September, for example, PCTEL entered the home-networking and Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) market.
At that time, it rolled out a combination V.90/DSL device designed for PCs. And, teamed up with Taiwan's ADMtek Inc. to co-develop a PC Card that supports V.90 and home-networking functions via a local-area network.
Last month, PCTEL announce Solsis, a software-modem technology for Internet appliances. This product is based on PCTEL's DAA devices and a digital signal processor from Texas Instruments Inc.
"The software modem business is fantastic," Wilson said. "But we believe the Internet appliance will be a big market. Right now, however, the home-networking market is in its infancy."