Later this year you can expect low-cost VPN gear mixed with W-Fi for branch offices from the likes of Linksys and Buffalo Technology, thanks to a new chip from Broadcom.Generally, this newsletter sticks to VPN systems, but Broadcom's chip, called 5350, warrants some note. It supports VPN encryption, wireless networking and Ethernet switching and as such could be the core of a compact wireless access point with a few Ethernet ports for wired devices and the ability to connect to other sites via IPSec VPN.Given that all this functionality is crammed onto a single chip the resulting devices could be inexpensive compared to buying separate equipment that perform the same functions. While such combination devices might seem best suited for small companies with a few sites, they could be fitted with management software that might make them attractive to larger businesses with many sites.Vendors such as WatchGuard and SonicWall make such combination devices that have full-blown management systems for corporations. If low-end vendors make use of this new chip to undercut the prices of these other VPN vendors, WatchGuard and SonicWall may feel pressure to lower their prices a notch.These upcoming new devices may find a home in business networks as a way to solve networking problems in telecommuter offices. They should be small, inexpensive and get around problems like home wiring and worrying about VPN client software on individual PCs.Both Linksys and Buffalo are current customers of Broadcom chips. Neither has announced plans to use the chips, but the type of device the chips support falls into the kind of gear these vendors make.