U4EA's WLAN gear targets SMBs

U4EA offers low-cost, full-featured, simplified access point and controller

U4EA Technologies has released a low-priced wireless-LAN controller and access point that can be up and running securely in 15 minutes.

The Fusion 300 WLAN controller and Fusion 50 802.11b/g access point are designed specifically for small-to-midsize businesses (SMB), which often lack wireless expertise. Enterprise features, such as fast roaming and rogue-access-point detection and mitigation, have been bundled with a simple Web-based user interface and wizards for fast deployment.

The company is targeting businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Typical U4EA deployments will have six to nine access points and about 80 users, the company says. Many of the enterprise-class WLAN products from such companies as Cisco and Aruba Networks can be pricey; others, from companies targeting the price-sensitive home and SMB market, can lack features that larger companies need, according to Chris Richardson, U4EA director of product management.

"Our metric [for this product] was for someone to take this out of the box and deploy a Wi-Fi network that's secure and managed in under 15 minutes," Richardson says.

There are a range of products that target this same space or segments of it. SMC Networks recently unveiled a kind of Wi-Fi "hot spot in a box" that provides an easy-to-deploy hot-spot gateway rather than a full WLAN. It's designed for hotel lobbies or cafes or similar venues.

U4EA's new Fusion line is based on the WLAN controller and access point code it acquired last March from NextHop Technologies.

The Fusion 50 access point uses Atheros Communications silicon, supporting the 54Mbps WLAN standard in the 2.4GHz band, 802.11b/g (actual throughput will be in the 20M to 25Mbps range). That's a far cry from the 100+Mbps throughput of Draft 2 802.11n WLAN gear, but U4EA deliberately chose to hold down costs, Richardson says. "We're still seeing that 11g is far and away what most people are deploying today," he says. The company plans a future release of 11n access points. The new Fusion 300 controller will support 11n via a software upgrade, according to the company.

The access points can be managed as Layer 3 devices over a LAN or WAN. They support Power over Ethernet to simplify installation.

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John Cox

Network World
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