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Tides shift in WLAN switching arena

Nov 03, 20032 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork SecurityWi-Fi

* Some start-ups restructure; others launch first products

While some wireless LAN switch start-ups already are restructuring and reducing headcount, others are just launching their initial products.

WLAN switch maker Trapeze Networks has reportedly cut around 30% of its workforce, or about 40 people. Switchmaker Vivato, which sells a “big panel” access point and phased-array, omnidirectional antennas for long-range coverage, last week eliminated about 20%, or 22 people.

The Vivato move followed a 10% reduction in August and is reportedly aimed at redistributing resources from engineering to sales and marketing personnel.

Other developments:

* Newcomer Legra Systems this week shipped its WLAN switching system. The company emphasizes the homegrown CryptoFlex chip in its switch, which contains four cryptography engines. So up to four sessions can be decrypted in parallel to ease bottlenecks.

The company also points to its Linux-based, extensible operating system with a special application CPU and 30G-byte hard drive aimed to allow the company to layer on wireless application services. The company hinted that an intrusion-detection application service might be forthcoming.

* Start-up BelAir Networks has brought yet another creative-sounding architecture to the WLAN table. Environmentally hardened, outdoor access points beam signals into buildings from outdoors. The BelAir200 (a combination access point, switch, IP router and gateway) contains a secret sauce that the company says extends coverage to between 600 meters and 2.8 kilometers.

BelAir says an enterprise that would normally require 20 indoor access points would need only three outdoor BelAir access points for the same coverage.

Granted, each BelAir200 costs $2,000 to $6,000. But you don’t need any other equipment. And if you consider 20 access points at $400 to $700 each from the WLAN switch companies, then add in the $7,500 to $12,000 cost of their WLAN switches, the savings are potentially substantial.

The BelAir200s can also be configured in an outdoor, neighborhood mesh architecture to provide cost-effective backhaul. So one access point reportedly provides local WLAN access and multimegabit-speed last-mile connections, as well.

At this juncture, BelAir supports 802.11b radios only, but says it plans to support 802.11g by mid-2004.