3Com Partners for Hotspots

In what the company calls a strategy alliance for hotspot solutions, 3Com out of Marlborough, Mass. said today that system integrators will find that 3Com wireless LAN equipment is ready to work with the hotspot gateway equipment from six major vendors: Aptilo Networks, IP3 Networks, Nomadix, PatronSoft, Pronto Networks and SolutionInc.

“We can now fulfill every requirement, for small hotspots with one to three access points or big mobile operators,” says Angelo Lamme, a product manager at 3Com.

The program is for strategic marketing, but also includes validation of the products working together. 3Com has tested all the gateways with its equipment to make sure they work.

Lamme says competition like Cisco and Proxim — both leaders in the enterprise WLAN space — tend to stick with just one or two of the above gateway vendors when their equipment is used in a public access setting. 3Com feels the partnership with multiple vendors gives them a boost against the competition.

“This shows a commitment to the wireless market and particularly hotspots,” says Lamme. “We’re a strong player in this area. We’ve added specific features, such as multiple VLANs, and those features are for hotspot deployment.”

He says 3Com equipment is not new to hotspots, saying many leading hotel chains use them and the Wimbledon Tennis Championship’s wireless connectivity was done with 3Com access points.

The deal with the gateway companies also includes a launch of a new Web site at www.3com.com/hotspots where the company will “explain the entire architecture of the hotspot and how it works,” says Lamme.

Products explicitly covered in the partnership include three 3Com access points, the 802.11g-only 7250, and the dual-band (802.11a/g) 8250 and 8750. Lamme says the gateways will work with all 3Com enterprise APs.

None of the deals are exclusive for the gateway vendors, and Lamme points that some of the vendors are more suited to certain markets than others. “PatronSoft fits nicely in small hotspots, but doesn’t work well for carriers or mobile operators, where you need Pronto or Birdstep,” he says. (Birdstep Technology’s IP Zone division was recently acquired by Aptilo Networks).

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