Cisco unveils new wireless LAN products

Cisco launches the Aironet 340 Series to support the wireless networking market.by William TseHONG KONG, 28 June 2000 - In this new millennium, Information Technology is becoming increasingly significant forbusinesses as a means to improve their office facilities and to help their employees perform more efficiently.

Cisco launches the Aironet 340 Series to support the wireless networking market.
by William Tse

HONG KONG, 28 June 2000 - In this new millennium, Information Technology is becoming increasingly significant for businesses as a means to improve their office facilities and to help their employees perform more efficiently.

The Internet, e-mail, databases, and intranets put global resources at the fingertips of all employees. The companies that best grasp the benefits of the technology will be the ones that succeed in the future.

However, it may be expensive and difficult for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to install a fixed cabling network.

First, the cost of wiring a network in an existing structure can be very high. Besides, cabling may be difficult or impossible to install in some old buildings in which many SMEs are located. Furthermore, some locations cannot be easily wired due to their physical structure.

Therefore, a wireless network is an alternative.

In response to the increasing demand of Wireless Local Area Networking (WLAN), Cisco Systems has introduced the Aironet 340 Series, the first in a series of WLAN products that will "cut the cable" and allow business-class network access anytime and anywhere without physical obstacles.

The Aironet 340 Series
Cisco's new Aironet 340 series adopts 128-bit 802.11b standard. Its 11 Mbps high-speed wireless solution provides Ethernet-like bandwidth needed for mainstream business applications.

It includes an integrated family of access points and easy-to-install client adapters, Ethernet clients, as well as line-of-sight outdoor bridges.

This new Aironet 340 series can support Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 200, and Novell NetWare.

It also enables the transfer of bandwidth-intensive data such as multimedia streams and large data files.

A Cisco Aironet wireless bridge product provides point-to-point or point-to-multipoint connections between buildings as far as miles line-of-sight away. As part of the 340 series, Cisco also offers a range of antennas, cable and accessories, so as to enable customized deployments to suit the specific needs of varying applications.

To meet the security requirements of enterprise customers, the Aironet 340 series features Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) packet encryption in hardware to provide 40- and 128-bit encryption for data security.

Booming WLAN market
"A growing number of SMEs are deploying WLANs for a variety of applications, including in-building mobile network access, a wireless complement or alternative to a wired network, and as a solution for building-to-building connections," said Ron Wills, vice president of marketing for Cisco Systems' small/medium line of business.

Since no extensive wiring and fewer network installations are required, WLAN can be a cost-effective solution for SMEs.

Mobility and flexibility are the advantages that a company can benefit from installing a WLAN. When connected to PDAs, portable computers, and other mobile computing tools, all employees of a company, especially the salesforce, can use their time more efficiently.

"The growth of the wireless LAN market is being driven by a growing list of market dynamics that will accelerate adoption of the technology over the next few years," said Esmeralda Silva, research director, Networking, IDC.

Wills added that the WLAN "Tornado" is driven by the recent adoption of IEEE 802.1(b) standard. Besides, 2.4GHz band is available without a license globally. "Now, the speed of 11 Mbps is a reality and the prices are decreasing at a very fast pace. The prices are expected to fall below US$250/node by 2001," he said.

"We look forward to a fast-growing WLAN market globally. In addition to SMEs, home users, education, healthcare and mobile business travelers are other attractive markets. Therefore, we expect the market size to grow from US$771 million in 1999 to $2.2 billion in 2004."

Next generation WLANs
According to Wills, the next generation of WLANs will be 5GHz band, featuring IEEE 802.11, a North American standard or HyperLAN2 European standard.

"Both standards promise to deliver in the range of 22 Mbps performance. We expect the first batch of products to be available in the next 12 to 18 months," he said.

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