Symbol upgrades its wireless LAN switch

Von Ephraim Schwartz

Symbol Technologies Inc. will take an important step in the evolution of the enterprise wireless LAN on Monday with the introduction of its WS 2000 Wireless Switch.

The WS 2000 will include a number of capabilities not available in the previous model, such as support for IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g.

However, the most significant new feature is its ability to create VLANs "in the air" said Anthony Bartolo, vice president and general manager of the wireless infrastructure division at Symbol.

Providing VLANs in the air amounts to offering users choices as to what part of the network they want to sign on to when they make a wireless connection to the corporate network.

Analyst Abner Germinal, program manager for enterprise networking at IDC, said VLAN capability is especially important in an enterprise environment where the capabilities of client devices vary.

"When the user tries to connect, he might be given the choice of the bar code scanner network, the VoIP network, or the laptop network," said Germinal.

The problem that WS 2000 also solves, according to Germinal, is how to give users with older client devices access to the wireless network without throttling down security over the entire network.

"Some devices don"t support WPA 2 security, for example," Germinal said.

Although IT is able to define numerous virtual networks, it still only has one IP address to manage, said Bartolo.

Because the WS 2000 switch integrates into a single device -- the Ethernet switch, the router and the firewall, plus power over Ethernet -- it will reduce the time corporate IT needs to spend managing remote locations, according to Bartolo.

Also new in the WS 2000 is support for IEEE 802.11h], a worldwide wireless LAN standard that uses DFS (Dynamic Frequency Selection) and TPC (Transmit Power Control) to keep civilian Wi-Fi devices from interfering with radar by allowing the Wi-Fi device to back off if it detects interference.

WS 2000 is shipping now and is priced at US$999. The AP 300 access port is priced at $349.