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Proxim hones Wi-Fi business product pitch

The wireless networking equipment maker is fine-tuning its access points as it sees the market for business adoption of Wi-Fi gear picking up this year.

Proxim is fine-tuning its wireless networking gear to better address businesses as the company sees spending for equipment picking up this year.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company announced on Monday new Wi-Fi access points with higher throughput speeds and what Proxim believes are improved network-management features.

After an initial surge in interest about two years ago, spending for wireless networking

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gear fell as security concerns surfaced and tech budgets tightened with the slowing economy. The consumer market maintained a high level of growth, however. Now, with the development and installation of new security specifications and network management features, business spending is expected to increase.

"We expect to see (purchasing of Wi-Fi gear) in a more pronounced way because of two factors: the proliferation of Wi-Fi in homes and the whole notebook refresh cycle," Proxim Chief Executive Frank Plastina said. "People are getting used to using it, and most notebooks are already coming with Wi-Fi clients built in."

Proxim's new access point, the Orinoco AP-4000, can be used to set up 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g networks. It also increases the rate, to 40 megabits per second, at which data is wirelessly transmitted. Previous generations of access points topped out at 30mbps. Access points are devices that wirelessly establish networks allowing for the transmission and reception of data from notebooks. The AP-4000 also comes with improved security measures, such as rogue access point detection software and use of the security specification Wi-Fi Protected Access. The AP-4000 access points are currently available for $899.

The access points also ease installation and maintenance of wireless networks by improving channel management. All access points use one of a number of channels to wirelessly communicate with clients, and when a number of access points are in use in an area, the likelihood of interference increases. Proxim's new access points use up to 15 channels for data transmission and automatically select noninterfering channels in environments where a number of access points have been installed.

The company also announced Monday a switching system meant to improve the handling of voice and data services between Wi-Fi and cellular networks. The system is part of the company's efforts with Avaya and Motorola announced last year to co-develop a device and network to improve roaming between cell and Wi-Fi networks.

Access points that will be part of the switching system will begin shipping in the second quarter and will be based on the AP-4000 devices.

Proxim held the No. 3 market share spot in the third quarter of last year with 6.8 percent of the market, behind Cisco Systems with 44.5 percent and Symbol Technologies with 15.3 percent, according to research firm Synergy Research.