3Com Wireless LAN 8250 access point

Von Russell Bennett

As wireless LAN (WLAN) technology has continued to evolve, while its price is reduced, this connection mechanism has become more and more rapidly adopted, and today it is clear that, without a wireless component, the corporate LAN will simply not be a complete solution.

Fortunately, as demand has increased, so has the supply of quality wireless connectivity platforms, such as 3Com Corp."s Wireless LAN 8250 access point, for instance.

Featuring an interesting boomerang-like design, this offering is the organization"s entry-level wireless AP destined for SME environments. It features all the functionality that these organizations could desire from a wireless LAN implementation.

Capable of supporting up to 253 connections, the 8250 aims to make it possible for such organizations to easily scale their WLAN to support a growing staff complement. Applying the necessary security and network management to a data network is made easy through a Web-based management interface, in which a comprehensive set of authentication and encryption capabilities are made available.

The AP supports both 802.11b and g, with the latter capability providing sustained WLAN throughput in the region of 34Mbps, provided that the user"s radio signal is at the full strength range. With the standard antennae in place, my wireless link remained strong until I was standing some 40 meters from the AP. By 80 meters the link had been lost entirely, although 3Com maintains 100 meters of range in ideal environments. The distance through which the signal maintains its full-speed capability is unusually far however, and this can be further extended with the addition of an external antenna.

Power over Ethernet (PoE) capabilities make for more flexible deployment options, as the necessary juice is drawn straight from the Ethernet cable itself, while Clear Channel Select automatically adjusts to the frequency with the least interference for optimal performance.

Should the frequency spectrum used by the device be an issue, this 3Com offering can be fitted with a module to provide 802.11a, which operates in the 5GHz, as opposed to 2,4GHz bands.

What is more, the 8250 features full SNMP manageability, making it an easy task to integrate the WLAN AP with the remainder of the managed corporate LAN infrastructure.

With all these features and more besides, this 3Com wireless offering performs very well in testing. The measured true network throughput, translating to a steady 34Mbps, is amongst the fastest of 11g WLAN APs that I have tested. The richly functional management capabilities of the 8250 are also easy to use, making this solution simple to install and maintain.