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Powered switch unifies wired and wireless LANs

All managed through one interface, says 3Com

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3Com claims it's the first to properly unify wired and wireless networking for small and medium businesses (SMBs).

Its snappily-named Unified Gigabit Wireless PoE Switch 24 - or Unified Switch to its friends - provides power-over-Ethernet on every port and has a built-in controller for up to 24 wireless access points, the company said.

The aim is a single device that provides an SMB with all the critical stuff it needs to update its network, providing support for IP telephony, powered Gig Ethernet, and wireless networking, according to 3Com.

As well as PoE for access points and wireless VoIP phones, the $2,750 Unified Switch also supports VLANs for voice segmentation, line rate Gig speeds on all 24 ports, 802.11n, WPA2 and AES encryption, and rogue access point (AP) detection.

Controlling the wireless APs centrally should make it easier to secure the network, as well as simplifying the task of AP configuration.

"3Com has delivered the first, Gigabit-class unified switching solution for the SMB market that we've tested," said Kevin Tolly, who runs the Tolly Group analyst organisation.

The device can be managed via a web browser, but also has Telnet, SNMP, and command line interfaces available. A key factor is that it uses a single IP address and a common web interface to manage both wired and wireless networking, whereas equivalent converged products from companies such as Cisco still keep the two sides separate, 3Com claimed.

3Com also hopes to sell the Unified Switch through its resellers as part of a managed service - it reckons the box can be managed remotely, allowing SMBs to outsource their network admin.

The Unified Switch can support up to 250 wireless users and should be available by mid-October. However, while it can power any wireless AP, it can only centrally manage 3Com's own 7760 and 8760 models. ®

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