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Airespace extends WLAN switch line to SMEs

All the security, management features, for fewer APs

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WLAN switch maker Airespace today extended its enterprise-oriented product line downmarket with a new wireless network controller pitched at small to medium-sized businesses.

The Airespace 3500 provides the same access point, security and radio coverage capabilities as the company's more corporate-oriented boxes, but controls fewer access points. That, said Jeff Aaron, a senior Airespace product marketing manager, makes it suitable not only for big enterprises' branch offices but smaller businesses too.

Traditional consumer/SME kit may be well-suited to smaller premises, but it doesn't provide the enterprise-level functionality such customers are increasingly demanding, he told The Register. 'Smaller' in Jeff's book is 10,000-60,000sq ft.

The 3500 connects up to six 'thin' 802.11a/b/g access points running the Lightweight Access Point Protocol (LWAPP). Based on the company's own AireOS, the switch provides real time RF management to maximise the coverage the access points provide, eliminating, the company claims, the need for site surveys. The 3500 also provides location tracking, suiting it to RFID-style applications.

On the security side, the 3500 watches out for attempts to gain unauthorised access to the WLAN - partly by detecting out-of-the-building clients and partly through full 802.11i/WPA 2 support.

The unit also provides Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) pre-802.11e quality of service support to prioritise packets, allowing time-dependent data such as audio or video to be sent ahead of data that can safely wait a few microseconds. Aaron also said the 3500 provides a level of bandwidth segmentation to further improve the delivery of, say, VoIP traffic. However, he pledged the company's technology would remain in step with 802.11e, which has not yet been ratified by the IEEE.

The 3500 connects and extends an existing LAN infrastructure through four 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports. The switch it due to ship next month. Pricing starts at $2000. ®

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