Nortel extends wireless vision with WLAN products

As Nortel Networks continues its development towards the provision of seamless connectivity across all networks — whether wired or wireless — the vendor has introduced a range of wireless local area network (WLAN) products. designed to provide voice and data services.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  May 26, 2003

WLAN expansion|~||~||~|As Nortel Networks continues its development towards the provision of seamless connectivity across all networks — whether they are wired or wireless — the vendor has introduced a range of wireless local area network (WLAN) products designed to provide voice and data services.

Nortel says the product releases, which include the WLAN Security Swtich 2250, WLAN Access Point 2200, WLAN Mobile Voice Client i2050 and the WLAN Mobile Adapter 2201, are designed to capitalise on the increasing maturity and growth within the market, while also extending the security, management and roaming capabilities of WLANs. The products also support the vendor’s ongoing vision of seamless roaming between wired and wireless networks, such as enterprise LANs, WLANs, hotspots, GPRS and 3G.

“[These products have been developed] in response to the fact that wireless networking is ‘growing up.’ Businesses are really seeing wireless LANs as a usable technology. But now its time to come up with a second generation of wireless LAN products because people [still] have a lot of concerns about wireless networking in terms of security and the ability to roam around buildings,” says Trevor Dearing, solutions manager for wireless LAN and security networking, Nortel Networks.

“[Ultimately,] we are working towards a vision where users will be able to roam seamlessly between a wireless hotspot onto a 3G or a GPRS mobile telephone network and then back into their own enterprise network,” he adds.

Key to making this vision a reality are the four products that Nortel has introduced to its portfolio. Each plays are a vital role in extending either wireless networking or wireless services out to users. The access point and switch are designed to provide the backbone of the wireless network, while the adapter allows the user to access the WLAN.

Furthermore, the i2050 Voice Client enables users to make phone calls from their PDAs.

Nortel is also providing support for both 802.11a and b standards, while allowing users to connect simultaneously to both, or to switch between the two according to their requirements.

“We have launched the wireless access point, which is really the radio piece and works at both the 11 Mbits/s, 802.11b and the 54 Mbits/s, 802.11a standard, and it actually does that at the same time so that users can connect to either of them or both of them at the same time. We have also released an adapter card that goes in a PC, that again works with both these speeds and systems,” explains Dearing.

The interoperability and flexibility between the 802.11a and b standards has also won Nortel support from the analyst community. “Nortel Networks dual-mode architecture that supports both the 802.11a and 802.11b standards — as well as its focus on the enhancement of security, roaming and network management in the WLAN — provides an attractive offering to enterprises,” says Gemma Paulo, senior analyst, data & voice communications, In-Stat/MDR.

The WLAN Security Switch has also garnered a warm response. While the vendor is keen to tackle the security and roaming issues that have hindered the uptake of WLANs, Nortel also believes that the 2250 switch gives it an edge over its rivals in the wireless space. Although the product adheres to regular security standards, such as IPSec, 802.1x, Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Networks (SSL VPNs), the vendor suggests that its layered approach to security provides additional authentication and VPN support without sacrificing mobility.

“The products that we have released, because they are new generation, will perform better than the existing products from 3Com and Cisco,” claims Dearing. “We have also added some functionality with the Security Switch around roaming, authentication, authorisation and VPN support that those vendors don’t have at the moment,” he continues.

“Nortel’s WLAN Security Switch 2250, designed to operate with a variety of different vendors’ access points, brings a critical component to its WLAN product portfolio providing customers with the ability to extend the security position of their wired infrastructure to the wireless realm,” affirms Paulo.||**||

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