3Com Broadens WLAN Appeal To Businesses


3Com (NYSE:COMS) is broadening its appeal to businesses interested in
802.11b, or wireless local area networks (WLANs), at the workplace with the
introduction Thursday of two new wireless hubs.

Introduced at 3Com North America Focus Partner Conference in Las Vegas, the
11Mbps WLAN Access Point 2000 and Access Point 8000 promise to extend the
hubs reach in the marketplace outside its flagship Access Point 6000.

Patrick Guay, 3Com LAN infrastructure division vice president and general
manager, said winning converts in the enterprise community is priority one
for the company.

“3Com’s unique approach of engineering innovative, rich networking
features, while delivering
easy-of-use and affordable solutions, stands out exceptionally well,
especially when our customers are required to do more with fewer resources.
Given today’s networking and business demands, great opportunities exist
for our channel partners in the enterprise market.”

The three hubs are the corner stone in 3Com’s approach to bring its version
of wireless networking to the business world. Each hub is designed using
the same principle, but accommodate a different class of corporation.

  • AP 2000 For businesses with around 10-40 simultaneous users, priced at
    $229.
  • AP 6000 Available since early last year, the hub supports up to 65
    simultaneous users, priced at $497.
  • AP 8000 Supports up to 1,000 user names and passwords, information
    unavailable to the maximum number of concurrent users. Asking price,
    $899.

The AP 6000 and 8000 support added security features not found in the AP
2000. For example, the two higher-end hubs (when using 3Com WLAN cards)
support dynamic security links — a remote authentication dial-in user
service (RADIUS) look-alike allowing system administrators to make sure who
is and isn’t given access to the wireless intranet.

3Com reiterated their promise to deliver 802.11a products by mid-2002. The
wireless standard is almost exactly the same as 802.11b, but delivers
speeds of 54 MBps through the aether compared to its slower kin with speeds
of 11 Mbps.

While companies have been hyping up the standard, its uncertain how the
WLAN market will react to the speedier product line, when equipment makers
begin selling these products. It’s taken a couple years for 802.11b, which
edged out competing standard Bluetooth for wireless networking dominance,
to gain acceptance in the U.S.

While the standard, which uses the 5 GHz spectrum to provide unquestionably
faster speeds, the 802.11a line of gear is not likely to be reasonably
priced for anyone but big business. Some analysts predict the 802.11a gear
will
cost twice as much as what you would expect to pay for a related 802.11b
product
.

In related news:

3Com also made inroads with wide area network (WAN) companies, introducing
Thursday software version 2 for their SuperStack 3 Webcache line. Designed
for far-flung businesses and school systems, the SuperStack 3 stores
popular Web pages on the server located at the company/school, driving the
use of bandwidth considerably.

Version 2, 3Com officials promise, will “significantly” speed up Web
content delivery while reducing Web traffic costs by 50 percent.

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