News

WLan upgrades easier

Antony Savvas
UK wireless Lan users have been given a clearer upgrade path with the launch of new 3Com access points and PC cards that support all wireless Lan standards.

3Com is one of the first companies to launch a range of products to allow companies to deliver wireless Lan access over the 802.11b standard as well as the faster 802.11a and 802.11g standards.

The 802.11b standard uses unlicensed spectrum to give a bandwidth of up to 11mbps; the 802.11a standard uses licensed spectrum for speeds of up to 54mbps; and the 802.11g standard offers the highest speed at 54mbps but over cost-free unlicensed spectrum.

Analyst firm the Yankee Group said only half of the companies using wireless Lans are happy with the upgrade paths offered by suppliers. But analyst group Gartner is now recommending that IT departments install wireless Lans now, before users are tempted to install their own unsecured connections.

Take-up of 802.11a has mainly been outside the UK, but most analysts believe the 802.11g standard can deliver a relatively cheap upgrade in access speed.

Sheena Wakefield, network support manager at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, welcomed 3Com's tri-band launch. The school currently uses a mixture of PC cards and access points from Cisco and 3Com.

She said, "802.11g is more useful for the UK and for EU countries in general, and this seems to be where the wireless Lan market is now going."

The list price for 3Com's tri-band PC cards is £65 and the access points are £142.

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