Interop Unwired

LAS VEGAS -- Interop -- The Interop 2005 show in Las Vegas promises another bumper year for all things wireless, with a slew of new products from established players and startups.

But even before the show starts there is a definite trend towards extremes, with companies showcasing everything from a personal wireless LAN to a long-range free-space optics (FSO) system that can deal with fog.

Aruba Wireless Networks Inc. has its eye on traveling professionals who want to use voice-over-WLAN and other secure services in the comfort of their hotel rooms. The firm has put together software that can be used with its lightweight access points to allow corporate users to securely tunnel back to the office switch.

As Aruba's product manager Jon Green notes, this will be particularly useful when using the system with WLAN phones that don't have onboard VPN software.

At the moment the cheapest access point that Aruba offers costs around $260. But Green is hoping that the startup can work with partners like Netgear Inc. (Nasdaq: NTGR) to incorporate the software in what would presumably be a cheaper format.

Aruba has at least one happy user for the new product. "It's just plain bitchin' man, I'm telling ya," exults Aruba's communications director, who recently took the new product out for a spin.

Unstrung cannot confirm rumors that Aruba's prototype personal AP looked like this.

Foggy Notion
FSO old-stager LightPointe Communications Inc. is back with a new trick, a wireless LAN-like radio that should stop its system being blinded when it's foggy.

The firm has developed a switched system that typically relies on an optical wireless link for high-speed communications but can move to a WLAN radio link when atmospheric conditions demand it.

"When the fog rolls in for an hour, I don't want to lose my connection," LightPointe CEO Jim Cady says. [Ed. note: Funny, when the fog rolls in for an hour, Unstrung starts worrying about rampaging zombie villagers, but that's just us.]

12 Radio Rumba
Enterprise wireless LAN startup Meru Networks Inc. has expanded its "single channel" concept with a 12-radio node/access point intended to give massive throughput for large-scale wireless LAN deployments.

The biggest "Radio Switch" -- there are also 4- and 8-radio models -- has a potential throughput of 648 Mbit/s and could support around 500 to 600 users. "It's really more like 350 to 400 of actual throughput," explains Joel Vincent, director of product marketing at Meru.

So why go big, when the tendency in enterprise WLAN seems to be towards introducing scaled-down branch office products? "We were getting requests to address high-density deployments," claims Ben Gibson, VP of corporate marketing at the firm. He says campuses and trading floors are two potential environments for these big boxes.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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