Broadcom Enters Enterprise 802.11n Market

The chip maker introduces a silicon and software package it says consumes half the power of competing 802.11n chip sets. 

Chip maker Broadcom expanded its switching portfolio April 22 to include enterprise-class gear for 802.11n Wi-Fi networks. The system can be used for stand-alone access managed by a wireless switch or controller running Broadcom's unified wireless switching software.

Broadcom promises that the integrated platform-combining the company's silicon and software-will provide manufacturers with cost savings and time-to-market advantages. The system eliminates the need for third-party software or in-house development, which can shave months off a manufacturer's development time.

"By marrying ... WLAN [wireless LAN] solutions with proven switch hardware and software, Broadcom is well-positioned to pursue the $2.3 billion enterprise wireless market with an end-to-end solution," Michael Hurlston, vice president and general manager of Broadcom's business WLAN systems, said in a statement.

According to Broadcom, the system comprises the company's BCM4342 single-chip 802.11n solution and unified access point software. The platform provides centralized RF (radio frequency) management, mobility, and wireless threat detection and prevention across the entire network.

"Mobility in the corporate work environment is a necessity and today's mobile work force has come to expect wireless connectivity anywhere and at any time," said Martin Lund, Broadcom vice president and general manager of network switching.

Click here to read about Broadcom's "3G phone on a chip."

Compared with the consumer market, Lund said, enterprise customers demand more reliable, secure and manageable networks. "Given Broadcom's switching and WLAN expertise, combined with our networking software, our platform can meet these demands and unleash the power of 802.11n in business networks," he said.

Broadcom claims its BCM4342 solution is the first to successfully address the power consumption issues that have traditionally slowed the rollout of enterprise 802.11n. While dual-band access points offer greater bandwidth and capacity than previous 802.11 systems, simultaneous operation of both radios usually exceeds the power limits of equipment used in nearly all large enterprise networks.

To deal with the power issues, IT managers use two POE (power over Ethernet) ports for each access point or they upgrade the entire network to support the new POE+ standard.

Broadcom claims the BCM4342 consumes half the power of competing 802.11n chip sets, allowing access points to operate simultaneously on two different bands while being powered by an existing POE infrastructure.