A security specification unveiled this week may help pave the way for more wireless Lans in large enterprises.
The Wi-Fi Alliance announced its first product certifications under the new WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) specification, naming equipment and components from Atheros Communications, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Intel, Intersil and Symbol Technologies.
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WPA is a subset of the IEEE 802.11i standard, which has not yet been approved. It improves upon the WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) technology now included in 802.11, most importantly by replacing WEP's static encryption key with a dynamic one and incorporating the 802.1x standard for user authentication.
With broad supplier support, WPA may go a long way toward simplifying enterprise wireless Lan deployments because it provides consistency across suppliers.
Buffalo Technology announced it would ship WPA-enabled products by the middle of this month. They include the AirStation 54Mbps Wireless Broadband Base Station and the AirStation G54 Wireless Notebook Adapter, a PC Card client device with an interface for an external 2.4GHz antenna. The products are based on a Broadcom chipset.
D-Link Systems said that its AirPlus, AirPremiere, AirPlus Xtreme G and AirExpert AGB wireless Lan product lines will be equipped with WPA by the end of the second quarter, available both in shipping products and in free firmware upgrades for existing customers.
Linksys Group will make WPA available in its Wireless-G products via firmware and software upgrades from www.linksys.com by the end of this month. By the end of August, Linksys expects to provide WPA upgrades for many of its Wireless Dual-Band A+G and Wireless-B products.
NetGear expects to provide a WPA firmware upgrade for its Model ME103 802.11b ProSafe Wireless Access Point, a product geared toward businesses, by the end of June.
The company will, eventually, extend WPA support to most other equipment. About six weeks after WPA firmware becomes available for a given device, the company should be able to ship the product with built-in WPA.
SMC Networks will also build WPA in to all of its wireless Lan products by the end of June.