3Com Dons Hard Hats for LANs

Enterprise networking developer 3Com came out swinging this week with three new additions to its line of wireless local-area network (LAN) solutions geared toward the corporate-level network connectivity market.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based 3Com released the second generation of its Network Jack platform, the NJ200, which builds on the same functionality as the NJ100. The Network Jack family is designed to rapidly convert single port LAN connections into four switched ports, circumventing the need to install additional cable.

Both the NJ100 and the newly released NJ200 are “in-the-wall” Ethernet switches that can significantly increase corporate LAN connectivity, the company said, and simplify the process of adding new users and devices. Both can be mounted inside standard wall cutouts.

However, the new addition to the Network Jack family supports Simple Network Management Protocol, for managing complex network port control and device monitoring, and port-based virtual local-area network set-ups for trafficking and system alerts.

The NJ200 also comes with utilities for location mapping and centralized control that makes it easier for IT personnel to pinpoint the location of LAN networking devices, the company said.

3Com also went to market with an 11 Mbps Wireless LAN PC Card, an enterprise caliber 802.11b connectivity card with a retractable antenna and added security features such as support for Wired Equivalent Privacy, a security protocol for wireless LANs in the 802.11b standard.

3Com’s new LAN PC Card works with any wireless access point within a single building and can receive wireless LAN settings for international and regional communications, the company said. It can also provide location detection and automatic activation of wireless LAN profiles pre-set by the user.

The LAN PC uses an XJACK, a PC card with an antennae that retracts fully into the card itself and works as a switch that when retracted, shuts down the device so it stops drawing power from the battery.

According to 3Com, the LAN PC Card is intended to work alongside the company’s newly released Wireless LAN Outdoor Bridge Solution, which in partnership with MAXRAD, a manufacturer of wireless communications antennas, has developed a weatherproof antennae enclosure for 802.11b wireless LAN communications.

Calling it a “rugged new wireless bridge,” the Wireless LAN Outdoor Bridge Solution can be installed on a variety of buildings to create additional access points within multiple locations. The Outdoor Bridge combines 3Com’s Ethernet cable, Power over Ethernet Module, and wireless bridge in a weatherproof casing that protects against inclement weather, which can often interfere with wireless connections.

“The Outdoor Bridge combines all the functionality of the bridge that is in the antennae itself,” said a 3Com spokesperson. “Previously you would have multiple pieces and cables, but the Outdoor Bridge puts them into one piece. It makes it easier to withstand outdoor conditions and you don’t loose the transmission speeds.”

According to 3Com, the Wireless LAN Outdoor Bridge can provide a connection of up to 10 miles and can support 40-bit and 128-bit Wired Equivalent Privacy and VPN protocols.

The NJ200 Network Jack and the Wireless LAN PC Card are currently on the market. According to the 3Com spokesperson, the Wireless LAN Outdoor Bridge will be released in mid November.

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