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Extreme Ships Wireless LAN Kit

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
9/30/2003

As predicted, Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) will finally start shipping its first wireless LAN products today.

Early in April, Unstrung (Light Reading's sister site for the wireless networking industry) exclusively revealed that the wired switch player was planning to get into 802.11 (see Extreme Hatches Switch Surprise). The company officially unveiled its Summit 300 48-port switch and accompanying Altitude 300 lightweight access points later that month (see Extreme Switches Both Ways).

Vipin Jain, VP and general manager for Extreme’s LAN access business, says that the company has already started to sell WLAN systems to customers. He names Santa Clara University as an early adopter, as well as a couple of unnamed hospitals and manufacturers. The initial deals are in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, Jain says.

Initially, he notes, Extreme is looking to sell medium-to-large campus deployments that will support up to 2,000 users across a number of buildings -- a setup that will require around 100 access points and between 10 and 20 switches.

"We recommend that customers plan for a maximum of 10 users on one access point," he adds.

Extreme originally positioned its Summit switch as a "Unified Access Architecture" designed for enterprises "that have been waiting to deploy a single… network for both wired and wireless network access." But even Jain admits that this isn't happening quite yet.

"What we are seeing is that customers are buying our switch and using it side by side with their existing infrastructure." However, the ever-confident Jain figures customers will buy into the Grand Unified Network Theory [ed. note: GUNT?] when they have to replace older equipment.

Next on the Extreme roadmap is a modular version of the switch, based on its Alpine chassis, and an increased focus on wireless LAN applications. Jain believes the technology and standards needed to support voice-over-WLAN will probably be in place in the next six months or so (see Is 802.11 Ready for VOIP?).

He predicts, though, that customer adoption could be much steeper, as firms initially figure out what they are going to do with wireless LAN networks. Jain belives that it could be two years before enterprises really start to adopt voice-over-wireless LAN technology.

Nonetheless, the switch dude says that Extreme will partner with other vendors to handle some of the software aspects of voice-over-WLAN. The company already has an enterprise-focused wired VOIP partnership with Avaya Inc. (NYSE: AV).

— Dan "Silly Gunt" Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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