Measuring the WLAN Polarity

One of the first companies to offer an measurement and analysis tool for WLANs was Sunnyvale, Calif.’s AirMagnet, which early on had handheld software for WLAN-equipped PocketPCs. Later they added a laptop version and a distributed package that can be used enterprise wide.

Back to its roots, AirMagnet this week announced the 3.0 versions of the handheld and laptop versions of the product. The biggest addition this time around is in the Laptop “Trio” product, which now supports all the major 802.11 flavors available: 802.11a, b, and g.

“Over the coming year, almost everyone will have mixed 11b/g,” says AirMagnet’s vice president of marketing, Rich Mironov. “As performance and security experts in this space, we see lots of issues users will need help with. B stations can crowd out G throughput, for example. Lots of current access points use pre-standard versions of 11g — I see it every time I turn on the laptop.”

Mironov also points to the huge number of laptops shipping with Intel’s Wi-Fi-capable Centrino Mobility as a potential problem. “They try and find all the access points around them — not just yours. If you don’t turn that off, every new Centrino will look for access points until you configure it otherwise… even if you’re not a Wi-Fi [using] company.”

AirMagnet Laptop 3.0 also adds a signal coverage measurement tool to check signal level throughout a location, support for multiple SSIDs at once within a single access point, and 22 new alarms, six of which are 802.11g specific (such as identifying pre-standard 11g clients and access points). The software will start at $3,495.

AirMagnet Handheld is also getting a new 3.0 face lift and several additions. While still only supporting 802.11b, the product has 16 new alarms and tools. Handheld is $2,995.

Finally, the company introduced an optional add-on product called AirMagnet Reporter which comes with over 50 types of WLAN management reports that can be configured by the network admin. The price on the Reporter is $1,495.

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