While much of the WLAN industry is focused on centralizing management within their switches, several companies are still working to make access points more intelligent.
Chip maker Engim Inc. and wireless LAN security toolmaker AirMagnet Inc. have teamed up to integrate intrusion detection capabilities into Engims white-box AP-310 reference design.
The AP-310 includes the EN-3001 Engim chip set, which increases the range and throughput capacity of a typical WLAN threefold, using a technique called Wideband Spectral Processing. This allows an access point to support multiple radio channels.
While other WLAN companies have developed ways to mitigate channel interference and support multiple functions, Engim distinguishes itself by keeping the features in the silicon.
"The interest on our part is in order to optimize bandwidth in a given area," said Brad Noblet, director of technical services at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H., who is testing a white-box access point from Engim. "If I can receive multiple channels simultaneously, I have a much more predictable pattern of coverage. The [partnership with AirMagnet] would make some sense because Engims new technology will give you a much better look at all of the spectrum concurrently. Its a natural fit," he said.
So far, Engim has announced only one licensee for the EN-3001 chip set: Matrx Broadband Technologies LLC, of Arlington Heights, Ill., plans to use the chip set for a wireless base station designed to support multiple services on commercial aircraft, ranging from passenger Internet services to monitoring systems on the plane. But Engim officials said that the added security features have sparked interest from potential licensees and that several Engim-based access points should hit the market in the first half of next year.
"Youre likely to find this in enterprise-class access points coming from the major access point players," said Scott Lindsay, vice president of business development at Engim, in Acton, Mass.
Meanwhile, D-Link Systems Inc. last week introduced a new 802.11g access point that allows for "self-managing" WLANs, according to officials at the Fountain Valley, Calif., company.
Designed for small businesses, the D-Link AirPremier DWL-2210AP includes embedded clustering capabilities that allow as many as eight access points to share configuration and policy information with one another, officials said.
"Once you put your initial clustered access point onto the network, the second access point is able to acquire its address and identify that there is a cluster ... online, and it can download its configuration automatically from the other members of the network," said Rocky Rosas, an engineer at D-Link.
If one access point fails, users can automatically reconnect to the network through any of the clustered access points, Rosas said.
The new access point includes business-level security features, including 802.1x authentication and support for AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). The access point also sports a built-in "RADIUS-Lite" server, which supports up to 100 users, and separate support for guest access.
The DWL-2210AP is available now for $350.