Optical/IP Networks

Trapeze Mixes It Up

Wireless LAN startup Trapeze Networks Inc. has updated its switch software to support more services across "mixed use" public and private 802.11 networks.

The main update that the firm has made is to drastically increase the number of "virtual access points" -- ID channels that the switch sees as an individual AP -- available on its system. Previously, the system supported two virtual APs per lightweight access point, now up to 64 of the IDs can be supported by each box. Virtual APs are extremely useful for "mixed use" networks, allowing the network operator to partition networks and offer different services -- such as voice-over-WLAN -- and levels of security to Joe Public and Eddie Enterprise.

Trapeze has been talking about supporting mixed-use networks for a while now, but this is the first upgrade specifically targeted at this sector.

The reason Trapeze wants to target trains, airports, sports stadiums, and other large areas -- where partitioning networks for separate users is a real issue -- is obvious enough. "These are big installations," notes Bruce van Nice, vice president of marketing for Trapeze. "Hundreds of APs."

Trapeze will face competition in this market from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) [ed. note: natch!]; Colubris Networks Inc., which also offers virtual AP capabilities; and its usual switch startup rivals, Airespace Inc. and Aruba Wireless Networks -- companies that certainly haven't cocked a snoot at unwiring airports or stadiums in the past.

Cynics might suggest that Trapeze is looking to expand in the mixed use market because it hasn't yet made a huge impression in the pure enterprise WiFi market. Airespace and Aruba both made a showing in the new third-quarter sales survey from Synergy Research Group Inc., while Trapeze still languishes in the "others" category, despite its recent partnership deal with 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS).

Talking to Unstrung late last week, Synergy analyst Aaron Vance noted that the 3Com partnership, which was announced in August, hadn't really had an effect on Trapeze's numbers yet.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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