Nortel pushes Wlan for enterprise campus

Nortel Networks' latest set of products will give workers the ability to roam around buildings and campuses while being...

Nortel Networks' latest set of products will give workers the ability to roam around buildings and campuses while being continuously connected to a wireless Lan.

The company will ship the Nortel Networks Wlan Security Switch 2250, which can handle as many as 500 secure wireless Lan connections across multiple access points. That platform will be at the heart of a broad set of wireless Lan offerings called the Nortel Networks WLAN 2200 line, designed for carrier hotspot deployments as well as enterprises.

The switch is designed to manage and control secure access to a wireless Lan infrastructure that may consist of many access points on different floors and in several buildings. It will let users continue a network session as they carry a notebook PC or other device around a building or campus, and keep all the same network privileges, said Nortel director of product marketing for wireless Lan solutions Anthony Bartolo.

A roaming user's connection will stay up even if the network has been divided into different subnetworks for each floor or building, a move many administrators make for ease of management, Bartolo said.

Through user authentication functions and encryption technologies such as IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) the switch can make sure only the right users get on the network and that their communications are protected. It can also hand off some functions to Nortel's Contivity security gear in enterprises that are already using that equipment.

The switch can carry 200Mbps (bits per second) of encrypted traffic and can handle 500 users at a time. For more users, enterprises can set up multiple 2250 switches, and those switches can balance the load among them. It can be used with any standard wireless Lan, and will cost between $6,000 and $7,000.

Nortel's 2200 line will support both IEEE 802.11b and faster 802.11a connectivity. The company's new Wlan Access Point 2220 is a dual-band device that also can be upgraded to support future technologies including the upcoming 802.11g standard. It can also be equipped with dual software images, one active and one for backup. The access point will have a list price of $899.

Nortel will also introduce a dual-band client card, the Wlan - Mobile Adapter 2201, that fits into a CardBus slot. That card will be priced at $259.

The Wlan Mobile Voice Client i2050 can be loaded on PCs or PDAs equipped with telephony components and make them work as IP phones, allowing enterprises to give each employee a single extension that travels around the site and lets them bypass mobile phone service costs. It will cost about $100.

Nortel's new line seems to be a step on the way to the next generation of wireless Lans, in which most of the intelligence will be centralised, said Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney.

As more enterprises make wide use of wireless LANs, integrating them with the overall network will be increasingly important, according to some industry analysts. Many suppliers are getting ready to roll out systems that can centralise security and management of wireless LANs.

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