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AirMagnet looks to attract problems

Products from the networking developer can help detect potential problems in a company's wireless network.

A start-up that hopes to capitalize on the growing interest and concern over wireless networking has updated its products for tracking the flow of data within a company.

Mountain View, Calif.-based AirMagnet said Monday that its AirMagnet Distributed system will be available starting June 1 for $6,995. The package includes a management console, server software and four remote sensors to make it easier for IT managers to monitor wireless networks using the 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g specifications.

The system doesn't automatically lock out individuals from a network or restrict the installation of unauthorized access points in a businesses network. Rather, it informs an IT manager when an access point has been set up, whether it may be interfering with others and if it is struggling under heavy traffic.

Despite lingering concerns, many companies are interested in using wireless networking to improve business productivity, AirMagnet CEO Dean Au said. "Our goal is to help keep the network up and running by identifying any potential problems," he said.

Wireless networks are increasingly becoming part of the technology landscape. Although IT managers have been wary of the security and management headaches of such networks, the convenience is gradually superceding those concerns.

"We're getting to the next stage, where wireless is more widely deployed and IT professionals have to go there because employees are asking for it," said Allen Nogee, an analyst with research firm In-Stat/MDR.

According to a Jupiter Research survey, 57 percent of U.S. companies use wireless networks and an additional 22 percent are planning to use them in the next 12 months.

The completion of a specification called 802.11i in the first half of next year will set the security standard for wireless networking, further easing the concerns of IT managers.