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Wireless gear makers update Wi-Fi for the office

Several companies are set to debut new wireless LAN products at this year's Networld+Interop tradeshow.

Several wireless equipment suppliers, including Cisco Systems, Siemens Communications and Aruba Networks, are set to show off new products and enhancements at next week's NetWorld+Interop trade show in Las Vegas.

On Monday, Cisco plans to announce the first product developed from its Airespace acquisition. The product, called the Wireless Location Appliance 2700, will help customers track and locate wireless local area network devices that have 802.11 technology installed, to within a few meters. These devices include wireless laptops, PDAs (personal digital assistants), voice over wireless LAN handsets, and 802.11 radio frequency identification tagged devices.

Over the past year, the market for Wireless LAN gear--equipment that allows businesses to connect workers to their corporate networks and the Internet wirelessly rather than through an Ethernet cable--has heated up. Cisco's $450 million acquisition of start-up Airespace earlier this year helped validate the market. As the technology matures, equipment suppliers continue to upgrade and refresh their product lines.

Also at the show, Aruba Networks, one of the many start-ups in this market, plans to announce a new product called Personal Access Point. This software, which can be loaded onto any Aruba access point, lets customers extend their corporate Wi-Fi network to their home.

One drawback could be the cost, however. Customers will not only have to dish out $250 just for the software, but they will also have to spring for a new access point, which costs between $200 and $500. Despite that, it could appeal to key sales staff and traveling executives.

Meru Networks, another start-up, plans to showcase a set of wireless products that increases bandwidth available to users. This is especially important when a high concentration of users needs access to the wireless LAN, such as on a stock-trading floor. Meru's new products will include four-radio, eight-radio and 12-radio versions. Using the 12-radio product, Meru can blanket an area with radio-frequency signals, boosting switching capacity.

Siemens Communications also is using NetWorld+Interop as an opportunity to debut its wireless LAN products, which it has developed using technology it acquired from Chantry Networks. The portfolio is called HiPath Wireless and includes access points as well as a wireless switch that is used to manage access points.

Ethernet switch maker Enterasys also will show off its new wireless solution. Earlier this week, it announced that it is licensing software from start-up Trapeze Networks. Enterasys will use the Trapeze software in its own switches to provide central management for the existing Enterasys wireless access points. Trapeze already has reseller relationships with 3Com and Nortel Networks.