From the October 1999 issue of Startups

Since spring 1997, homebased business advocates and entrepreneurs have been waging a battle against municipal leaders in New Jersey. If the Home-Based Business Protection Act (S.632/A.1112) is defeated this fall, proponents vow to take the issue to the Supreme Court.

The bill declares homebased businesses legal as long as business activities remain undetectable to neighbors--meaning no pollution, noise or additional traffic, explains Chris Hansen, president of the Home Based Business Council Inc. The bill, which passed the Assembly with Republican sponsor Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, was pulled from Senate voting last July when co-sponsor Senator Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) saw it would be defeated. At press time, Kyrillos was planning to reintroduce it when the fall session reconvened in September.

Opponents of the bill, led by the New Jersey State League of Municipalities (NJSLOM), say the language is vague. "There is no language expressly prohibiting retailing, manufacturing or warehousing, [and] the language pertaining to customer visitations would be virtually unenforceable," explains William G. Dressel, executive director of NJSLOM. Another bill (A.2578), sponsored by Republican Assemblyman Joel Weingarten for introduction in the fall session, allows only for office-related and telecommunications activities with no customer visits allowed.

Hansen argues that under the original bill, municipalities still retain the power to set standards for homebased businesses. He contends money is a hidden motive of the bill's opponents: S.632/A.1112 requires no zoning registration, and therefore no fees. A.2578 would let municipalities set fees if they wish.

"We [plan to] warn [legislators] with regard to the probability of a constitutional battle for the right to work at home," Hansen said at press time. "We intend to make it a national issue. The [Constitution] is very specific as to the freedoms people should have, and these freedoms have been stolen."

Wire Power

To wire or not to wire--that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the home office to suffer the pings and time-outs of outrageously slow phone- and AC-wiring, or to take arms against a sea of slow connections, and by adding a 10BASE-T end them.

OK, enough with the Shakespeare. (Even we had to try and cash in on the Bard.) Lots of SOHOwners, however, don't even get the chance to soliloquize about the state of their office networks because they're actually SOHO-renters, and landlords tend to not like tenants bashing into walls to install high-speed wiring.

The good news is, we were taking poetic license. And though phone-line, power-line and wireless networking connections may be a little slow, they're quite adequate for shared file and Internet access. So here are some networking options that will keep your info flowing and your walls intact:

*Tut Systems' HomeRun technology uses existing phone lines to create a 1 Mbps (megabit per second) network that can handle up to 25 PCs and peripherals. Some newer computers come with HomeRun technology already installed; if yours doesn't, you can take advantage of the HomeRun networking technology incorporated into Intel's AnyPoint Home Network product line (http://www.intel.com/anypoint). Each PC requires a parallel-port adaptor ($189 for the basic two-PC setup; $99 for each additional PC), which plugs in to your PC's parallel port and a nearby phone jack. If you're using your parallel port for another peripheral, you can install a PCI Card ($79) internally into your PC. A faster 10 Mbps upgrade should be available early next year.

*Intelogis' PassPort Plug-In Network (http://www.intelogis.com) uses electrical outlets to connect PCs and printers. It works like the AnyPoint system: You plug the PassPort PC adaptor in to your wall outlet and attach it to your PC's parallel port with provided parallel cables. Your printer connects to the PassPort device rather than to your PC, so you're free to put your printer anywhere there's an electrical outlet. The Starter Kit ($150) includes equipment to connect two PCs and one printer. Additional PassPort PC and Printer adaptors cost $60 each.

*Proxim's Symphony Cordless Networking Suite (http://www.proxim.com) is ideal if you want to network both desktops and laptops. Symphony uses a radio frequency solution (2.4 GHz) to transmit data within a 150-foot range. You can network up to 10 computers at 1.6 Mbps via a Symphony Cordless ISA or PCA Card ($149) for each desktop computer and a PC Card ($199) for your laptops. For cordless network access to the Net, try the Cordless Modem ($299).

Contact Source

New Jersey State League of Municipalities,http://www.njslom.com