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D-Link has announced their D-LinkAir Pro DWL-6000AP, a wireless access point that supports both 802.11a and 802.11b connectivity. "It is the ideal solution for future proofing and upgrading Wireless Local Area Networks," said D-Link.

D-Link recently rose in the collective consciousness of Mac users by Apple Computer Inc.'s tacit endorsement of the company's DWB-120M device, which permits any USB-equipped Macintosh to communicate with Bluetooth-equipped devices after downloading and installing a "technology preview" of Apple's own Mac OS X system support for the Bluetooth protocol. D-Link manufactures a wide variety of wireless communications products.

The DWL-6000AP is a dual band wireless access point that supports both 802.11a connectivity, which operates at up to 54Mbps -- and 802.11b connectivity, which operates at up to 11Mbps. 802.11b is the same protocol supported by Apple's AirPort wireless networking peripherals. So far, there's been no move by Apple to support 802.11a directly, but forwarding thinking IT managers are considering the 802.11a protocol carefully, especially now that third party manufacturers are producing compliant peripherals.

802.11a operates much faster than the b variant, but it's not backwards-compatible. The DWL-6000AP enables system managers and others to set up a single access point that can serve both users. Additionally, the device sports two mini-PCI slots to allow for additional adapters and connectivity. It also sports an integrated 10/100baseT Ethernet interface for connection to a wired local area network (LAN).

The device is administered through a secure Web-based interface powered by an embedded Web server. It's also compatible with the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), making it possible to manage the device through other SNMP-aware tools. The DWL-6000AP sports console and telnet support for basic administration, and is firmware-upgradable to provide for new software features as they become available.

The DWL-6000AP is expected to begin shipping in June with a suggested retail price of US$499.

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