Proxim Supports Wireless Standard 802.11a

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Proxim, Inc. today announced its strategy to help companies migrate to the emerging wireless networking standard, IEEE 802.11a.

The 802.11a specification, which offers the fastest standardized wireless technology with data rates of up to 54 Mbps (versus 11 Mbps with the current 802.11b standard), enables more simultaneous wireless users and enhanced mobile multimedia applications such as streaming video.

The news comes at a time when Proxim continues to support the HomeRF wireless standard, which offers a slightly slower speed, but is touted as more secure.

The company could not be reached for comment by press time.

Proxim is incorporating 802.11a into its multi-standard Harmony products, which allows enterprises to deploy 802.11b wireless networking services as they migrate to 802.11a as products become available.

In a prepared statement, Lynn Chroust, director of Proxim’s commercial networks business unit, said “Because 802.11a offers faster, lower-interference wireless connections, we believe many enterprises will progress to 802.11a. Harmony will see them through this transition easily, at their own pace and without any hidden IT costs.”

The centerpiece of Proxim’s 802.11a strategy is its Harmony wireless LAN solution, which it said offers a flexible, multi-standard wireless networking architecture.

The company said Harmony would avoid common oversight in other migration techniques. Competing designs accommodate both 802.11b and 802.11a PC cards in one multi-slot access point, but 802.11a covers a shorter range than 802.11b.

At data rates of up to 54 Mbps, 802.11a enables mobile access to streaming video and other multimedia content and the ability to transfer large files and support for high-density user environments. In addition, the 802.11a standard operates in the un-congested 5 GHz band, so interference with cordless phones is cut down.

In an earlier interview with, Wayne Caswell, a spokesperson for HomeRF, acknowledged the popularity of 802.11b for businesses.

“It’s interesting that the people who are using wireless today are enterprises. But, as wireless takes off in homes we’ll see a difference,” he said.

No doubt Proxim hopes to tap both corporate and home users.

Today, Proxim also announced a Harmony 802.11b PCI card and additional programs to develop and support its VAR partners. The card is designed with an integrated radio and features a patch antenna on a five-foot cord, which allows for antenna positioning.

“The Harmony PCI card provides superior throughput and range, unlike ‘card-carrier’ type PCI cards, which do not allow proper antenna placement,” the company said.

Proxim, which prides itself on its security enhancements, said the new software would allow IT managers to safeguard their networks by routing wireless traffic to a specific server or VPN, thus reducing the ability of outsiders to gain access to information on a corporate network.

“…with Harmony’s enterprise-class access control list, IT managers can authorize wireless access for up to 10,000 users, denying access to unauthorized users,” the company said.

Proxim is offering VARs a new starter kit program that consists of one AP controller, one 802.11b access point and one 802.11b PC card for $822. In return VARs earn $100 for each additional Harmony access point controller sold in the first 60 days.

In afternoon going, shares of Proxim were trading at $17.75, up 49 cents from Friday’s close at $17.26.

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