WLAN Switch Handles Voice

Proxim's WLAN switch handles voice over Wi-Fi.

Proxim Corp. will introduce a WLAN system designed to support voice and data across Wi-Fi networks, including the eventual support of cellular traffic.

The Orinoco Switching System was designed from the ground up to support voice traffic, which is how Proxim is differentiating it from the myriad other wireless LAN switches on the market.

"This switch is actually part of a telemetry system," said Kevin Duffy, senior vice president of product development and product line management at Proxim, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Last year Proxim, Motorola Inc. and Avaya Inc. announced plans to collaborate on devices and supporting software and hardware that can roam between cell phone networks and WLANs without interruption. The goal is to allow business travelers to take advantage of public WLAN hot spots and continue a connection on the way back to the office.

The companies have yet to offer a complete solution, but Proxim officials said the switching system will be part of it.

"Wed like [customers] to get to fast wireless, one phone number and a maximum of two devices," Duffy said.

The switching system supports tunneling between switches on a per-user basis, which prevents session restarts when roaming among subnets, officials said.

The switch includes an implementation of the latest draft of the IEEE 802.11e QOS (quality-of-service) protocol, which is due for ratification later this year. It registers whether traffic is voice or data and supplies the highest level of QOS accordingly, officials said. The switch also balances traffic loads among access points on a network.

The system is designed to integrate with the customers IP PBX. Among other things, this means the system can support Enhanced 911 services based on the location of an access point and prioritize calls based on calling party identification, officials said.

The switch is due next quarter in a 16-port version. Eight- and 24-port versions are due later in the year.

In the meantime, Proxim this week will launch a trimode access point, which is available immediately.

The Orinoco AP-4000 supports 802.11a signals in the 5GHz band as well as 802.11b/g signals in the 2.4GHz band.

For management purposes, the Orinoco AP-4000 includes a set of interfaces such as SNMP Version 3, Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service authentication and HTTP via Secure Sockets Layer.

"The secure features for the management are the most secure Ive seen," said Philippe Hanset, senior network engineer at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, which operates a WLAN of some 1,300 access points.

For security, the Orinoco AP-4000 supports the Wi-Fi Alliance Wi-Fi Protected Access protocol. Advanced Encryption Standard support can be added through a software upgrade. The access point can detect other, rogue access points in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, officials said.

The Orinoco AP-4000 is priced at $899.99.