Airespace Reins in Wireless Networks

Airespace rolls out a wireless LAN platform that helps control access points.

A Silicon Valley startup is joining the trend to centralize wireless network intelligence rather than spread it among access points.

Airespace Inc., formerly Black Storm Networks Inc., this week will introduce WLAN (wireless LAN) software and switches under the Airespace brand that manage power and reception problems in adjacent access points (see screen).

The Airespace Control System software, due this quarter for 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g networks, consists of Mobile Policy Manager, which controls access; AirWave Director, which controls channels and power allocation; and SecureSpace Security Framework, which makes it easier for IT managers to add security protocols to switches.

The Airespace 4000-series wireless switches and companion access points let users maintain virtual private network connections as they travel through subnets of access points. The switches assign channels and balance loads dynamically. In addition, they support myriad IEEE security standards as well as high-level proprietary protocols. The switches come in 12- and 24-port versions.

The 4000-series switches work with third-party access points from Cisco Systems Inc. and Proxim Inc. but are designed primarily to work with Airespaces own access points, adjusting power accordingly as failures in neighboring devices are detected.

"What makes them different is their radio resource manager, the ability to sense whats going on in the [radio frequency] space," said Fred Archibald, network manager for electrical engineering and computer sciences at the University of California, in Berkeley. "The radios select the channel themselves, which makes the deployment a lot easier."

"We didnt set out to make the [access point] dumb," said Brett Galloway, president and CEO of Airespace, in San Jose, Calif. "We set out to make the system smart."

NEC America Inc. is working with Airespace to integrate Airespaces system into its own NEON—NECs Enterprise Open Network— platform to come up with a converged system that will include cordless voice-over-IP phones.

The system is slated to be available this summer, according to NEC officials, in Irving, Texas. Airespace officials declined to release product pricing.

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