WLAN client vendors make news in Vegas

Wireless LAN infrastructure vendors are bypassing Comdex this year as many hold off on making announcements and putting on exhibitions until the WiFi Planet show in early December.

Wireless LAN infrastructure vendors are bypassing Comdex this year as many hold off on making announcements and putting on exhibitions until the WiFi Planet show in early December. But there is an array of WLAN client news at Comdex including launches of software, components and silicon intended to make WLAN and other wireless technologies run faster and be easier to use and manage.

Chipmaker Broadcom announced InConcerT, which is software that will coordinate Broadcom's 802.11 WLAN and Bluetooth chipsets on a single device. The aim is to avoid interference on the 2.4 GHz band that the two radio technologies share.

In a network of Broadcom-based devices, InConcerT will let devices work together to maximise wireless performance, according to the vendor. The software will run in the company's Blutonium Bluetooth firmware and the OneDriverT unified LAN driver. In a laptop or PDA with both radio technologies, InConcerT will automatically synchronise their transmissions to avoid collisions by finding the clearest channels and time-slots for transmitting.

A laptop, for example, could use 802.11 for a data connection and use Bluetooth to communicate with various peripherals for tasks such as updating a cellphone's phone list, or sending a file to a printer. The new software will prevent the two signals from interfering with each other.

Broadcom will introduce InConcerT into its WLAN and Bluetooth products starting in early 2004. The chips will be fully compatible with earlier Broadcom processors.

At CDXpo, another show that's competing for the attention of the IT pros in Las Vegas this week, Mobile Automation announced it is licensing Shavlik Technologies' NFNetChkPro software. The software is designed to automatically and securely manage software patching on hundreds or thousands of handheld devices.

Shavlik is the same company that developed the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyser, which is part of Microsoft Systems Management Server.

Mobile Automation will incorporate the Shavlik software into its own Secure Management Platform software for managing mobile clients.

Patch management is becoming a more urgent issue for enterprises, as they realise that wireless connections allow worms and viruses to spread rapidly through a network.

Legra Systems, a WLAN switch vendor, announced that its Legra Switch has been updated with WiFi Protected Access and is certified to work with other WPA products on 802.11b WLANs.

WPA is an early, and partial release of the IEEE 802.11i standard, which is expected to be ratified in 2004. The standard corrects a number of weaknesses in the 802.11 encryption scheme known as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). WPA is an industry-backed subset of 11i, which can be loaded on to existing WLAN devices.

The WiFi Alliance, which organised the WPA project, also created a testing and certification program for WPA. The Legra switch has passed the System Interoperability Test Plan and a second test plan for WPA on 802.11b WLANs.

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