Motorola wireless LAN adds mesh to indoor networks

Draft 802.11n access point that supports wireless meshing, plus a new wireless controller announced

Motorola has released a Draft 802.11n access point that supports wireless meshing, plus a new wireless controller.

The access point ships with two 802.11n radios, but has an optional third expansion slot. With all three operational, one can be dedicated to client access, one to radio-frequency security scanning, and one to wireless mesh backhaul. The expansion slot can be fitted in the future with a WiMAX or other 3G pr 4G radio. The mesh capability, coupled with Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) support, lets an enterprise deploy a wireless LAN with minimal Ethernet and power cabling.

Motorola also announced plans to release a version of its LANPlanner WLAN design and planning application by June, with support for 802.11n devices.

Mesh access points are rare in indoor enterprise-class WLAN products. In 2006, Meru Networks unveiled a wireless backhaul between its access points and controller, and Firetide's wireless products are designed to create a 802.11 mesh infrastructure into which can be plugged Firetide or third-party access points. Ruckus Wireless has what it calls a "light mesh" feature to link some of its access points.

Network World wireless blogger Craig Mathias liked what he saw during a demonstration of the new Motorola products.

The new access point is the Motorola AP-7131. It's the latest, along with offerings from Aruba Networks, Belkin International, Siemens and others, to support three spatial streams sent and received over three antennas (a "3x3" configuration). Partly as a result, Motorola says, the two radios dedicated to data traffic each offer 300Mbps, or 600Mbps for the access point as a whole. Both radios can run in the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band.

The 7131, with the spiderlike appearance characteristic of 11n devices, can work in two modes: as a stand-alone device in a small-to-midsize enterprise, or as a thin access point in a centrally administered WLAN with the corresponding Motorola switch. It incorporates a MIPS-based network processor; an RF chipset that supports Dynamic Frequency Selection 2, enabling it to make use of additional 5GHz channels; and two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. Motorola rates the access point at 600Mbps.

With one of the three radios dedicated to RF-scanning, the device can run round-the-clock as an intrusion detection/protection system.

The 7131 is priced at US$1,199, and is expected to ship in April.

The new WLAN controller, the Motorola RFS6000, introduces support for the mesh. The RFS6000 is a mid-range controller, between the 256-port RFS7000 and the six-port WS200.

It has eight PoE ports for 11n devices; a PCI Express slot for WAN backhaul adapters, such as for Evolution-Data Optimized, High-Speed Downlink Packet Access and WiMAX; and a PCI expansion slot for services, such as those provided by an IP PBX. The RFS6000 can support as many as 48 of the new access points, and as many as 2,000 users, Motorola says.

Anticipating enterprise demand for Voice over wireless LAN, Motorola has designed the controller to incorporate several features intended to optimize it: QoS for toll-quality voice calls and the Wi-Fi Multimedia Extensions, along with fast roaming across Layer 3 boundaries.

It supports 802.1X authentication and the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2 industry specifications. It has integrated stateful firewalls; VPN; an authentication, authorization and accounting server; and network access control.

The eight-port RSF6000, priced at US$2,900, also is expected to ship in April.

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John Cox

Network World

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