Mitsubishi Electric has launched a range of wireless networking products, arguing the time is right to jostle the elbows of the likes of D-Link, Cisco and Netgear in what is already a crowded market.
The vendor has announced an 802.11g-compliant, WPA-secured wireless gateway, wireless card adapter and wireless USB adapter to move through its existing channels.
Mitsubishi might consider pushing them other ways, such as via ISP bundles, down the track, the company said.
Richard Freggi, electronics division GM at Mitsubishi Electric, said the Diamond Digital brand would target consumers and small businesses as they got more interested in wireless.
“The prices for these products are coming down, the running costs [and] the rental line for ISPs for broadband are dropping very quickly,” he said.
Previously, only technical types and hobbyists had been interested in wireless broadband. But the market was changing, Freggi said. “Now is the right time,” he said.
Freggi said only some segments of the wireless networking market were crowded. “If you look at government and educational, it is not crowded at this stage. But in retail, some of the generic products, it is more crowded there,” he claimed.
Mitsubishi would differentiate itself by offering local tech support and R&D for firmware and software. The company had seven people in its Sydney testing and R&D facilities, he said.
Three-year warranties that did not require registration were also on offer. Non-technical home or small business customers in particular needed more support than had been offered by many major players, he claimed.
The vendor would also benefit from being a well-known brand, he said, and was expanding its networking range in general.
However, signing on retailers would risk alienating Mitsubishi's current channel, although the vendor was “very keen” to get its new wireless WAN gear into outlets such as Harvey Norman, Freggi said.
“We are very committed to our current channel,” he said. “We have been very successful selling networking products. The Diamond Voice brand was quite popular in Australia for the last few years.”
Mitsubishi Electric used several distributors across Australia, including TodayTech, Westan and Multi Media Technologies.
“We have been working with major distributors on the development of these products,” Freggi said.
Thaddeus du Fresne, electronics division business development manager at Mitsubishi Electric, said the vendor wanted users to be able to self-install their wireless products as much as possible.
However, Mitsubishi was putting local support staff in each state to help users that ran into problems seven days a week, he said.
Small businesses frequently baulked at adopting wireless networking due to security fears. “Many people try to [configure security] and just give up – and end up not implementing any security at all,” he said.
Further, some competing vendors' WPA products were proprietary, causing problems for interoperability, but Mitsubishi's were not, du Fresne claimed.
Mitsubishi believed that WPA would soon be ratified as IEEE security specification 802.11i, du Fresne added.
Mitsubishi's new R100 wireless gateway, A111 wireless card adapter and A101 wireless USB adapter would be available for RRPs of $249, $129 and $149 respectively, he said.
The vendor planned to add a router with an inbuilt ADSL modem, a PCI adapter and another USB adapter to its wireless networking range over the next two quarters, du Fresne said.