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Proxim Talks Up New Switch

Wireless LAN access point vendor Proxim Corp. (Nasdaq: PROX) finally unveiled its long-awaited new switch today and talked up the importance of voice-over-WLAN (VOWLAN) applications in encouraging enterprises to invest in these new distributed 802.11 systems.

The firm is introducing a 16-port switch called the ORiNOCO Wireless LAN Switching System, built by Avaya Inc. (NYSE: AV) and loaded with software from Proxim. The switch is intended to closely integrate with Avaya's PBX products and upcoming handsets from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), in an effort to better enable voice applications in the corporate world (see Trio Combine For Convergence).

Proxim also has some new stripped-down access points as well as a new full-fat model known as the AP-4000. Both models support all three 802.11 standards: b (11 Mbit/s over 2.4GHz), a (54 Mbit/s over 5GHz), and g (54 Mbit/s over 2.4GHz).

Proxim sees VOIP as key to its switch endeavors. "What's going to spur on broader deployment of a switched architecture is voice," says Ben Gibson, director of corporate marketing.

Proxim claims that it has added software features to the switch mix that will enable its system to better integrate voice. These include:
  • Proprietary quality-of-service code, although Proxim says that some of its work will feed back into the 802.11e group
  • Roaming software that "predicts" which access point subnet the user will move to
  • Tighter integration with the PBX means that the system can control the number of clients that connect to a single access point. By keeping the number of clients associated to 10 or less, the system ensures a better quality of voice service.
Naturally, Proxim isn't the only WLAN vendor betting big on voice in 2004. A whole slew of startups have been pushing VOWLAN, with firms like Meru Networks Inc. designing their entire systems around voice. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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