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Apple extends AirPort

New software, base-station

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Apple has updated its AirPort wireless networking system, with new software and a modified base-station to improve network security and accessibility.

Version 2.0 adds 128-bit encryption to protect data transmitted across the network. AirPort, which is based on the standard IEEE 802.11b specification, used in Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) to encrypt transmissions. Previously, AirPort supported only 40-bit encryption.

AirPort 2.0 adds support for Radius network user authentication databases, to ensure that only users who have a right to access the AirPort network are permitted to do so.

The system now supports AOL in the US, enabling multiple users to share their single AOL connection across the wireless network.

The new AirPort base-station maintains connections with up to 50 PC or Mac clients - up from just ten users - and provides an extra 10/100 Ethernet port, allowing the device to be connected to wired networks as well as a Cable modem or DSL adaptor.

The base-station acts as a router, dishing out IP addresses to connected clients and hiding the lot behind a built-in firewall.

An updated AirPort has been on the cards for some time, ever since hints emerged last summer that Apple was working on a new version of the technology. However, the anticipated shift toward the 54Mbps 802.11a wireless LAN standard has not been made - AirPort 2.0 still relies on 11Mbps 802.11b. ®

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