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Airespace Unveils Office Hobbit

Wireless LAN switch startup Airespace Inc. has introduced a new four-port "controller" aimed at businesses looking to unwire small and medium-sized offices.

Airespace says its 3500 box can support up to six access points and 100 users, depending on the applications being run. In addition to the SMB market, the firm is hoping the 3500 will enable it to play in some new sectors as well.

"It may open up new opportunities in the retail market," claims Jeff Aaron, senior product marketing manager at Airespace.

Smaller offices are a growing focus for many of the players in the wireless LAN market. In recent weeks, both Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) and Trapeze Networks Inc. have introduced branch office products (see Extreme Networks Adds Switch and Trapeze Branches Out).

Alan Cohen, VP of marketing at Airespace, says the 3500 is a "natural continuation" of Airespace's enterprise wireless LAN strategy. The company previously introduced a centrally managed access point for remote sites, which "is hot and selling well," according to Cohen.

The competition to unwire smaller offices will likely stand and fall on features that rivals can cram into smaller boxes and how inexpensive they can be made. Airespace will sell its 3500 -- which is shipping now -- as a standalone intrusion detection security box for $2,000 list, and with the same software as its larger siblings for $3,000.

Ever the literary type, Cohen also revealed that all Airespace's boxes are codenamed after characters in The Lord of The Rings. The 3500 was known as "Bilbo". At time of writing, Unstrung can't confirm whether this means it has hairy toes.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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