Symbol’s New Switch Strategy

Why have separate networks for all the different kinds of wireless when one will do? Symbol Technologies calls the platform it plans to launch with this strategy Wi-NG, for Wireless Next Generation, the company’s fourth. The new radio frequency (RF) switches planned will consolidate technologies like 802.11/Wi-Fi, 802.16/WiMax, passive RFID, mesh networks, EV-DO and HSDPA — just about anything that uses the airwaves.

“This is a long term strategy for Symbol for the next 12 months,” says Chris McGugan, the company’s Senior Director of Marketing. The aim is to let companies start with a Wi-Fi-based LAN and expand from there to new technologies.

The first product in the Symbol portfolio to become an RF switch will be the WS5100 Wireless Switch. It will be enabled with Layer 3 roaming and the ability to support RFID readers. The company is showing it at Interop this week in Las Vegas. The switch can be coupled with the AP-5131 mesh access points announced last year, or the APs can be deployed without a switch.

“The mesh is standalone today, but is part of the architecture for Wi-NG,” says McGugan. “If customers want that mesh to be switch controlled, they have that option.”

Symbol thinks fixed/mobile convergence (Wi-Fi VoIP and cellular) will be a key driver in enterprise markets in the future, and has a handset, the MC70, that supports both GSM and 802.11. The company has a partnership with new enterprise F/MC player Divitas, a company also working with Nokia, Meru and Trapeze.

Another partner on the new Wi-NG architecture is AirDefense, which will provide integration of its wireless intrusion protection systems (IPS). Symbol APs will act as the sensors needed for detecting and preventing intruders such as unauthorized clients or rogue APs.

Wi-NG is built on Linux. McGugan says, “We’ve embraced open source.” It has a modular architecture for layering on new services as needed.

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