O’Neill Communications Inc has developed a wireless local area network that uses high-frequency radio to communicate between network nodes. Called Lawn, for Local Area Wireless Network, the system allows up to 20 users to share peripherals, transfer files, and send and receive electronic mail, though it does not allow file sharing, or support client-server applications. Each node unit attaches to the serial port of a personal computer, and has a four-channel transceiver, microprocessor, and memory to hold electronic mail messages. Using frequencies between 902 and 928MHz, Lawn has an indoor transmission range of 100 feet, while outdoor transmission across unimpeded spaces can be up to 500 feet; it communicates at up to 9600bps. Nodes can also act as repeaters, allowing a total local area network length of up to 10,000 feet, and the product includes software installed on top of MS-DOS. Princeton, New Jersey-based O’Neill Communications says the system, awaiting Federal Communications Commission approval to use the high-frequency radio band, should be available in the US by the third quarter. The company is working on a version for Apple Macintosh which it wants to release before the end of the year. But Lawn will not be available in the UK for at least a year, as the frequencies used fall in the wavelength used by cellular radio. The company has talked to an unnamed UK company with a view to adjusting the system for European applications. Lawn costs $500 per node, but O’Neill claims companies can make big savings from not having to wire up a network.
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