Netgear Debuts Mobility and Converged Networking Platform

The access points offer security features such as WPA and WPA2 encryption, multiple VLAN and VPN pass-through support.

Networking specialist Netgear announced the release of two wireless access point platforms aimed at small and midsize businesses, the ProSafe Wireless N Access Point (WNAP320) and the ProSafe Dual Band Wireless N Access Point (WNDAP360). The access points are designed for first-time, small company single installations or for widely scattered corporate network "edge" deployments.

Both come with a lifetime warranty and security features such as WPA and WPA2 encryption, multiple VLAN and VPN pass-through support, rogue access-point detection and 802.1X authentication with RADIUS support. The two access points automatically integrate with the company's WC7500 series wireless controller hardware and WMS management software and systems, which the company said helps control management costs even when user and device counts increase. Power over Ethernet (IEEE 802.3afPOE), wireless bridging and repeating capabilities, and an "easy mount" frame with a plain white cover make for simplified setup on walls or ceilings.

"Mobile computing devices now outsell desktop PC platforms, and wireless networks are now mission-critical for businesses of all sizes. Delivering wireless video, voice and data solutions often bring hidden management costs" said Maggie Wu, product line manager for wireless networking at Netgear. "The ProSafe WNAP320 and dual band WNDAP360 are part of our continuing campaign to deliver 'smart IT, not big IT' solutions for growing companies demanding reliable, affordable and simple solutions."

The ProSafe Wireless-N Access Point (WNAP320) is available now worldwide with a MSRP in the United States of $350. The ProSafe Dual Band Wireless-N Access Point (WNDAP360) will be available later in the second quarter of 2011 at a price to be announced, the company said. The Netgear announcement also noted WC700 series wireless controllers and WMS series wireless management software and appliances are sold separately.

Tim Zimmerman, principal analyst at IT research firm Gartner, said small and midmarket companies are at the center of increasing WLAN momentum, and 802.11n solutions are providing the increasing bandwidth and reliability for voice, video and data services at the edges of converged networks. "These new expectations bring management and security challenges that can be daunting to IT generalists," he said. "Leading wireless vendors must address these dynamics through complete wireless solutions that fit the budget of this market segment without overloading on complexity."

James Bricknell, a LAN designer for ATG-IT, an IT sales and solutions firm in the U.K., evaluated the ProSafe Wireless-N Access Point and reported the WNAP320 has a great signal and even through concrete and other significant obstructions, speed is never an issue. "I'm also really impressed with its reliability. Despite everything I threw at it, it held up. And people who aren't familiar with security wouldn't have a problem with configuration," he said. "It supports WPA and WPA2, up to eight SSIDs, and is particularly capable of supporting VLANs, so a business can segregate access permissions at the machine level, rather than just groups. With other brands, this capability is only available at a much higher price point."