Optical/IP Networks

Proxim Repeats Itself

Enterprise wireless LAN incumbent Proxim Corp. (Nasdaq: PROX) has borrowed a trick from the world of cellular communications for the latest software updates to its ORiNOCO access point range.

The firm says that with new software upgrades released today its multimode AP-2000 and AP-600 access points will be able to act as "wireless repeaters" to extend the puny 300-foot range (or less) offered by standard 802.11 radios. Compliant Proxim boxes will do this by passing data packets to each other, like kids at a birthday party playing pass the parcel.

Repeaters have long been used in wide-area cellular networks to improve coverage in buildings and congested urban environments for mobile phone users. Some firms have even started to hang wireless LAN access points off their indoor wide-area repeater systems, but largely as an adjunct to the cellular system rather than as a range booster for a WLAN network (see Nextel Goes Indoors). Proxim envisages its system being used in environments where Ethernet wiring is unavailable, like corridors, warehouses or, er, the Marz Bar.

The general idea of repeaters is similar to the concept of wireless LAN mesh networking being by pushed by everyone from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) to startups like Strix Systems Inc. (see Strix's Radio Trix).

Proxim's system is entirely point-to-point though, unlike multipoint-to-multipoint mesh systems. "It is similar to mesh but not quite the same, more of a linear piece," says Amy Martin, Proxim spokeswoman.

Along with the repeating technology, Proxim is also releasing further security and management software upgrades such as rogue access point detection on the access point. Some of this code has been developed by Proxim's AP software partner Wavelink Corp. (see Proxim: All Quiet on the Switch Front).

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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