A Branch Office Symbol

Symbol Technologies, the first vendor to market a wireless LAN switch and (according to Synergy Research Group) the most successful in the market thus far, has introduced a new product designed for branch offices that don’t need coverage for an extensive number of employees.

The WS 2000 Wireless Switch is a peer to the existing WS 5000 (originally called Mobius Axon); it’s not meant to be controlled by the original switch, which can run up to 30 “access ports,” Symbol’s term for its own “thin access points.” The WS2000 is meant simply to be a scaled-down version that will provide coverage using one to six access ports.

“It fits with our classic customer base and adds new avenues for branch offices that before they couldn’t have done with the complications of wireless,” says Yangmin Shen, director of technical marketing for Symbol’s Wireless Infrastructure Division.

Symbol’s take on the term “wireless switch” is that the main hardware should mimic the wired switches so prevalent in enterprises. The company sees its access ports as a major cost savings for enterprise customers, as the units cost around $259. They support either 802.11b or 802.11a/b for now, with support for 802.11g expected sometime this year.

The switches and access ports offer virtual LAN (VLAN) support, effectively generating what Shen calls virtual APs. The VLANs can shunt different users to specific traffic areas on the same access port. With the WS2000, each access port can support three virtual APs. The switches also provide full router functionality including NAT firewalls, DHCP server, and supply IEEE 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE) to access ports.

The WS 2000 (and WS 5000 for that matter) are not designed to have any central management at the moment, though they can be controlled by a system like HP OpenView. Shen says that Symbol will “be announcing a enterprise mobility manager that will manage both” sometime this year. Both products also sport CompactFlash (CF) slots that can be used to run software/firmware upgrades; the switch will automatically look for them when booting.

The six-port WS 2000 will cost $1099 when shipped with one 802.11b access port. It will ship in volume in March.

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