Wireless LAN Companies Tout SMB Gear

Airespace upgrades its AireOS management software and rolls out a WLAN switch that supports six access points, while Aruba Wireless Networks readies a new access point that makes a switch unnecessary.

As the WLAN (wireless LAN) switch space matures, the leaders of the new pack are developing products to augment switch-based WLANs with new products that focus largely on branch offices, security and quality of service for voice traffic.

Airespace Inc. this week will introduce a switch designed for offices that require WLAN coverage of less than 60,000 square feet.

The Airespace 3500 has most of the management features of its big brothers, the 4000 and 4100, but it supports only six access points, said officials at the San Jose, Calif., company.

It includes four Fast Ethernet ports to connect to wireline infrastructure. The switch will be widely available next month. Pricing depends slightly on configuration but starts at $2,000.

At the same time, Airespace is introducing upgrades to its AireOS management software, focusing on bandwidth allocation and security.

The software now includes several priority queuing features that provision bandwidth according to groups or individuals and what services they are using. For example, VOIP (voice over IP) users could get priority over data because slight voice interruptions are more noticeable than slight data interruptions. Or doctors in a hospital could be given priority over visitors surfing the Web in the waiting room.

The system also includes new intrusion detection capabilities, which are flash-based, meaning that an administrator does not have to take down the IDS (intrusion detection system) in order to update files.

Within the next few months, Airespace plans to launch a tracking service, wherein customers will pay a monthly fee to be informed of new security attacks. The company is in the process of hiring a dedicated attack tracker.

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Meanwhile, Aruba Wireless Networks Inc. is readying a new access point that was designed—at least more than any of the companys other products—to obviate the need for a switch in small offices, officials said.

"This is our next-generation branch-office access point, but its meant to be kind of the be-all end-all for the small office who doesnt want to deploy a switch," said David Callisch, a spokesman for Aruba in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The Aruba AP70 grid point includes two Ethernet ports, so one can hook up to the wire and the other can hook up to a hub. It also includes a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port.

The AP70 includes two radios, which can support either 802.11a or 802.11b/g. Officials declined to divulge pricing or availability, but sources close to the company said it will hit the market before the end of the year.

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