Building a Wi-Fi Bridge

By Brian Morrissey

July 15, 2002

3Com rolls out a buffed-up building-to-building wireless LAN bridging technology that is compatible with any access point.

In the hopes of overcoming the nettlesome problem of tying together wireless LANs that are physically separated, wireless networking company 3Com Monday announced it would soon unveil a revamped bridging technology that allows 802.11b networks to leap from building to building.

Due out next month, the 3Com Wireless LAN Building-to-Building Bridge is an update of a technology 3Com unveiled a little over a year ago. The new version bumps up the distance it covers to 15 miles, while hitting speeds of up to 11Mbps. Depending on antenna size, customers can use the bridge for point-to-point or point-to-multipoint connections of between 300 and 20,000 meters.

"Wireless networking gives organizations a reliable way to link an increasingly mobile and dynamic workforce," Patrick Guay, vice president and general manager of 3Com's LAN Infrastructure Division, said in a statement. "With the new 3Com Wireless LAN Building-to-Building Bridge, organizations can now link multiple buildings in a campus over a greater distance, and in a simpler way, while taking advantage of powerful features including security and network management enhancements."

Excluding access points and cables, the bridge will cost $990 when it is available worldwide in early August.

3Com said the bridging technology would be compatible with any access point given the seal of approval by the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance, the group that certifies interoperability for 802.11b technology, also know as Wi-Fi.

According to researcher Gartner Group, half of all enterprises have plans to buy wireless LAN systems, and IDC reports $3.7 billion will be spent on wireless LAN systems in 2006.

To address the biggest brake on wireless LANs' explosive growth, security concerns, 3Com's bridge will support both the 40-bit and 128-bit Wired Equivalent Privacy protocol, in addition to the ability to fold it into a Virtual Private Network.

3Com already sells a variety of Wi-Fi products, from access points to PC cards.



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