• United States

Linksys, Proxim make (radio) waves at Comdex

Nov 18, 20023 mins
Cellular NetworksUnified Communications

Linksys, Proxim, make (radio) waves at Comdex

Today, at the opening of Fall Comdex in Las Vegas, Linksys sealed its reputation as the 800-pound gorilla of small office/home office networks by announcing it will ship the first 802.11g wireless gear in early December. Yes, you heard right. The long-anticipated specification still won’t be ratified until early June, and compliant products still won’t enter the market for months. No matter, to capitalize on pent-up demand, Linksys has gone ahead and built “pre-g” products using silicon from Broadcom based on the draft specification.

It could be a smart move. 802.11g provides the best of both worlds. It runs in the 2.4-GHz band like 802.11b  products, so it’s backward-compatible, and it provides faster 54M bit/sec data rates, like 802.11a. Even better, 802.11g adapters combined with a dual-band 802.11a/b access point let you connect network clients using 802.11a, 802.11b or 802.11g adapters. Workers who shuttle between wireless home and corporate networks can connect to an 802.11a or 802.11b network in the office, connect to an 802.11b network at home and upgrade it to the faster 802.11g technology without sacrificing corporate connectivity.

With pre-g, Linksys says it hopes to eclipse market demand for 22M bit/sec wireless products from 3Com and others built using Texas Instruments’ proprietary chip. “It’s getting a lot of interest at retail,” says Victor Tsao, president of Linksys. “With [802.11g], we’ll provide better performance with a spec that will be accepted by the entire industry in a couple of months.”

There doesn’t appear to be much risk in going with Linksys pre-g products. If the IEEE makes any changes to the specification before its ratification, Linksys says it will offer a free firmware upgrade on the Web site. Even better, pre-g gear will cost just a bit more than 802.11b products. Adapters and access points will cost $10 more ($80 and $140, respectively), and the wireless router will cost $20 more ($150).

It’s all about location, location, location

Wireless gadgets get serious

Crafting a wireless network strategy

Tablets take on the corporate world

Venture capital funds lead to wireless LAN gold rush

With today’s announcement of the AP-2500, Proxim opens up the wireless public access market to small, independent venues such as mom-and-pop coffeehouses, car dealerships and the like. Before now, setting up a hot spot required purchasing what’s called a universal services gateway from Nomadix.

Built to handle large hot spots, these pricey, enterprise devices handle all the back-end tasks for accessing the Web from a public place; they reconfigure your IP address and redirect your browser to a Web page that lets you pay for service.

The big news is that Proxim has built a universal services gateway (with help from partner Nomadix) right into the AP-2500, so venue owners simply can plug in the gateway, select some settings, and offer service. Some neat features include dynamic address translation (DAT). Rather than users struggling with network names or Service Set Identification numbers, DAT simply maps the notebook to the hot spot’s access point without actually changing any IP settings. Also, the software lets service providers offer end users the ability to select the speed of their connection on the fly via a drop-down menu.

Proxim also is pitching the device as an upgrade to corporate customers who want to offer secure visitor access. The AP-2500 lets network executives offer Web access to visitors while preventing them from accessing the company’s wireless LAN. Available next month, the AP-2500 will be priced at $1,100, just a bit more than Proxim’s AP-2000, making it a no-brainer for any small to midsized public access application.