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What the vendors have to offer

Here is a list of some of the vendors offering WLAN solutions and a brief description of some of their products.

In the wireless race various vendors worldwide are offering a host of WLAN production services. India companies are offering wireless LAN solutions in there product portfolio

With a spurt in the various wireless technologies, Wireless LAN has become one of the key participants in the wireless race. Various vendors worldwide are offering a host of WLAN products and solutions.

Commenting on the WLAN scenario, says S.Narayanan, Chairman and Managing director, MRO-TEK Ltd., "Wireless LANs have gained strong popularity in a number of vertical markets, including the healthcare, retail, manufacturing, warehousing, and academia.

These industries have profited from the productivity gains of using computers to transmit real-time information to centralized hosts for processing. Today wireless LANs are becoming more widely recognized as a general purpose connectivity alternative for a broad range of business customers."

In India, wireless LAN solutions are available from a number of companies as part of their broader networking product portfolio. They include companies such as D'link, Breezecom, 3Com, Lucent to name a few. Says Anand C Mehta, Marketing Manager, D'link India Ltd.,

"Wireless LAN products can provide LAN users with access to real-time information anywhere in their organization. This mobility supports productivity and service opportunities not possible with wired networks".

WLAN solutions are being increasingly adopted by various industry segments both globally and locally. "Recently there has been a spurt in deployment of these solutions, as they have become economical and cost effective over the years. The flexibility in deploying these solutions and productivity enhancements offered have made them very attractive," say sources from Lucent.

Ram Gopal, Country Manager, consumer and commercial services, 3Com India, believes that WLAN is a cost-effective solution. He says that WLAN today complements existing wired LAN infrastructure and does not seek to replace it. He further adds that the cost of implementing a WLAN can really only be justified against the RoI calculations that an enterprise makes with respect to savings, gain in productivity etc., that it makes. Adds TRK's Narayanan, "Comparing the cost/quality ratio, the WLANs are still on the higher side compared to the traditional wired networks worldwide. The cost of WLAN is getting cheaper and as an effect is becoming more popular."

The main advantages of WLAN are its portability, ease of installation, and practicality.

Says Ram Gopal, "The most appealing aspect of WLAN is its convenience, it allows flexibility and roaming. A user is not tied down to a LAN and can move around with relative ease while staying connected. WLANs are also easy to install. An entire network can be put together in a matter of hours rather than days. Finally, WLAN may be installed where rewiring is impractical. Wireless systems can be installed in different environments and users can communicate with the existing wired network through access points or wireless adapters."

However, there is a flip side to WLANs also. Says Mehta "The main hurdle for extensive WLAN deployment is its limited range of operations. A network of interconnected access points can activate terminals within a range of up to 300 meters. Each individual access point can cover a maximum range of 100 meters within the confines of the offices. Being based on the direct sequence spectrum (DSSS) platform, the range of wireless network is severely affected by physical obstacles. These physical limits to the range of wireless networks clubbed with the high costs of implementing multiple access points present a gloomy picture of the wireless world".

Commercially, different countries have their own regulations on the use of wireless devices. There may be licensing requirements in some, which make the solution less cost effective. In others, the entire spectrum may not be available, which makes it difficult to introduce the products. Adds Narayanan "In most parts of the world, the use of 2.4Ghz which is mostly used for WLANs is license free, but in India, one needs the approval of Wireless Planning Commission (WPC)".

The frequency band of 2.4 GHz to 2.483 GHz has been approved by WPC, Government of India, for use by IT enabled applications. For point to point and point to multipoint outdoor WLAN links, permission from WPC has to be obtained.

Vendors and their key product range
D-Link
Wireless LAN Access Point
The DWL-1000AP 802.11B, is a 11Mbps wireless LAN Access Point and is compliant with IEEE 802.11b.

The D-Link DWL-1000AP provides access point connections to building infrastructure for the network or to extend the reach of the network communications capability. It enables mobility and seamless roaming from cell to cell and covers a range of up to 100 meters per cell for indoor use and up to 300 meter per cell for outdoor use.

In bridge mode, the DWL-1000AP can be directly connected to a broadband residential gateway or a xDSL/Cable modem to provide high-speed wireless Internet access. On a dynamic network connection, the DWL-1000AP will obtain a DHCP IP and forward additional DHCP IPs to multiple clients on the network. The DWL-1000AP can also be directly connected to a broadband residential gateway or a DSL/Cable modem for high-speed wireless Internet access.

The DWL-1000AP bandwidth data transmission rate can be set manually at 11Mbps, 5.5Mbps, 2Mbps, 1Mbps or on dynamic auto-sensing configuration.

The DWL-1000AP operates in 2.4 GHz Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) for wireless networks in the home or office environment with transparent bridging and roaming capabilities. The DWL-1000AP can be managed remotely via the access point manager software. It also supports WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), MAC address control and user authentication to ensure security.

It automatically identifies the IP of the host PC as well as the subnet when connected on to an Ethernet LAN in the home or office environment. In addition, with the access point manager software, the IP address of the DWL-1000AP can also be manually assigned. The access point manager software can be installed in Windows 98, 98SE, ME, 2000 and NT 4.0.

Wireless LAN PCI
The D-Link DWL-500 is a 11 Mbps Ethernet wireless network adapter that plugs into the PC's PCI bus slot. Once connected with other networked PCs, it allows you to share hard disk drives, DVD drives, CD drives, iomega Zip drives, printers and provides shared access to a modem for Internet access.

It adheres to the IEEE networking standard for wireless connections, so the D-Link DWL-500 is compatible with multi-vendor environments that are also IEEE 802.11b compliant. The DWL-500 bandwidth data transmission rate can be set manually at 11Mbps, 5.5Mbps, 2Mbps, 1Mbps or on dynamic auto-sensing configuration.

The D-Link DWL-500 will connect point to point or it can use an access point. It has full mobility and seamless roaming from cell to cell as well as across access points.

In Infrastructure mode, the DWL-500 can be connected to a broadband residential gateway or a xDSL/Cable modem for high-speed wireless Internet access on the existing network.

The DWL-500 comes with an internal non-detachable diversity patch antenna and one built-in green LED indicator for power, network link and activity. The DWL-500 is compatible with Windows 98, ME, 2000, NT 4.0 and other popular operating systems.
Nokia

Wireless LAN Card
The Nokia C110 Wireless LAN Card and the Nokia C111 Wireless LAN Card are extended type II PC cards offering a data rate of 11 Mbps in a wireless LAN environment. Both cards feature an internal antenna, and the Nokia C111 also has connectors for external antennas.

The cards support ad hoc networking and infrastructure communication to
wired Ethernet networks via access points. The products support the IEEE 802.11b standard and are based on the 2.4 GHz direct sequence radio technology. The IEEE 802.11b compliant Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol with up to 128-bit key encryption enables reliable radio traffic.

The WECA (Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance) approval ensures tested interoperability (WiFi™) with standard-based wireless LAN solutions from other vendors as well. Supported operating systems are Windows™ 95, 98, 2000 and NT 4.0.
3Com

Wireless LAN access point
The 3Com® AirConnect® 11 Mbps Wireless LAN access point acts as a bridge between the wired Ethernet backbone and your wireless clients. Generally attached to a ceiling or wall, the access point works with wireless LAN PC Cards for notebook users and PCI cards for desktop users to provide seamless network access wherever you are. Each access point sends and receives data from up to 63 simultaneous users at speeds up to 11 Mbps within a radius of 91 meters (300 feet). This access point features built-in diagnostics and power-up self-check, upgradable firmware, antenna diversity, and support for SNMP.
Linksys

Instant Wireless PCI Adapter
The Linksys Instant Wireless PCI Adapter (with the Linksys Instant Wireless Network PC Card inserted) allows you to share printers, files, and more within your wireless LAN infrastructure, increasing your productivity and keeping you on the network.

Just plug the Network PC Card into the PCI Adapter and you can take full advantage of a wireless network. A high-powered built-in diversity antenna enables you to cover distances of up to 500 meters.

Ready to run in any PCI-equipped desktop PC and is compatible with virtually all major operating systems.

When combined with the Network PC Card (WPC11) it offers 11 Mbps transfer rate and is compatible with Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT and Millennium Plug-and-Play Operation Provides Easy Setup. IT works with all standard Internet applications.

Nortel Networks

BayStack 600 Series Wireless LAN Products

The BayStack 600 Series Wireless LAN products offer all the advantages of a wired LAN connection without the wire, network resources such as e-mail. BayStack 600 Series Wireless LAN Products also allow users to create a quick ad-hoc network between two or more PCs for file sharing, print sharing, chat capabilities and work group collaboration.

The BayStack 600 Series Wireless LAN Products use sophisticate spread spectrum radios to penetrate walls, doors, floors and network. Portable PCs equipped with BayStack 600 Series Wireless PC Cads can connect to the enterprise network from anywhere in the facility where wireless hubs have been installed.

The BayStack 650 Wireless Access Point is a wireless-to-wired bridge that attaches to the LAN backbone. It enables portable computers equipped with the BayStack 650 Wireless PC Cards to access the network without wires via a 1mbps connection. The BayStack 650 Wirelss LSN Products use a 2.4 GHz Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum radio type for network transmission. Each BayStack 650 Wireless LAN products use a 2.4 GHz Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum radio type for network transmission. Each BayStack 650 Wireless Access Points support 10 to 15 typical mobile users. Each BayStack 650 Wireless offers a coverage range of upto 225 feet in standard office environments and up to 1,00 feet in an open environment.

The BayStack 650 supports high user density by allowing 10 or more over-lapped Access Point cells. This scalability allows for a large number of users in a relatively small area. NM

Mahesh Rathod can be reached at rathodmp@hotmail.com

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