3Com unveils 802.11n WLAN wares

Unveils a slew of products.

3Com is expanding its business-class wireless LAN line to embrace higher-performance IEEE 802.11n applications.

The new products range from Power over Ethernet (PoE) access points, to routers and adapters. Support for 802.11n gives the products faster transmission speeds for video and collaboration, extended reach and higher capacity than previous 802.11a/b/g offerings.

The new gear also includes security features such as encryption, support for multiple service set identifiers and virtual WLANs. These are designed to enable a business hosting guest users to provide access to the Internet on a defined segment of the wireless network without compromising the company's private data.

But with every other WLAN player addressing 802.11n -- including 3Com's enterprise supplier, Trapeze Networks -- 3Com's differentiator is price, analysts say.

"They did have a really aggressive price point," says Michael Brandenburg of Current Analysis. "It's business class stuff edging near consumer-level (pricing)."

The new 802.11n WLAN products are:

-- AP3950 -- A centrally controlled dual-radio PoE enterprise access point that provides simultaneous 802.11n performance in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. It works with 3Com's existing Wireless Mobility System controllers and switches.

-- AirConnect 9550 -- A dual-radio PoE access point for small-to-midsize businesses that provides simultaneous operation in 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n bands.

-- AirConnect 9150 -- A single-radio stand-alone managed PoE access point that delivers 802.11n 2.4GHz connections.

-- ADSL Wireless 11n Firewall Router and Wireless 11n Cable/DSL Firewall Router -- Each has a four-port Ethernet LAN switch, so wired and wireless users can share one connection. Security features such as VPN initiation/termination, and optimized for branch and remote offices, small businesses and telecommuters.

-- Wireless 11n PCI Adapter and USB Adapter --2.4GHz client cards enable devices without a built-in 802.11n adapter to connect to the wireless network.

3Com says all of its 802.11n access points support the IEEE 802.3af standard, which eliminates the need for separate electrical outlets for each access point, thereby consuming less electricity.

The AP3950, co-developed with Trapeze -- which was recently acquired by Belden -- costs US$1,300 and will be available in July. The 9550 costs US$499 and will also be available in July.

The 9150 costs US$299 and will be available in July. The routers cost US$149 for ADSL and US$109 for cable/DSL, and will be available in August.

The adapters cost US$109 for PCI and US$89 for USB.

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