Networking company 3Com has entered the wireless LAN market with the launch of its AirConnect 11Mbit/s products.
The AirConnect starter kit consists of a wireless access point, three PC cards and management software. The access points are fixed to a ceiling or wall and act as a bridge between the wired network and up to 63 simultaneous wireless PC or notebook users.
When notebook users roam from room to room the PC card locates the access point with the best signal. As soon as it picks up a new access point it brings up the network. Access points can be set up to recognise PC cards' unique media access control (MAC) addresses so that non-recognisable devices will not be able to get onto the network.
Placement of access points is not restricted by power outlets, as they can be wired into twisted pair cable and get power off the ethernet cable. Web support built into each access point lets network managers monitor performance, change configurations or run diagnostics anywhere on the network via the Web.
3Com New Zealand manager Patrick Carson says several New Zealand organisations - which he did want to name - are considering going wireless. Brisbane-based Jean Paul College recently set up wireless networking for an 1800-user campus in one day, he says.
The cost is similar to wired ethernet, but wireless local area networking is faster to install and gives more flexibility, Carson says.
The starter kit is approximately $3974 ex GST. Individual Air Connect PC cards cost about $400 each. Putting in a wired port is likely to cost about $150 plus the cost of the network interface card at about $250, Carson says.