Gateway Debuts APs for Business

By Eric Griffith

April 06, 2004

The computer maker is putting out its first enterprise-class wireless products, striking at areas it deems the marketplace weak in: ease-of-use and price.

When most people think of products from Gateway, images of cow-spotted boxes and plasma screens are conjured -- even Gateway itself admits it. The company's Enterprise Systems Division, which has been around since January of 2003, has been slowly working to change that by introducing as many as 25 new storage and server products over the last year.

Now that same division is going to bring out a Wi-Fi access point (AP) geared specifically at small-to-medium businesses on up to enterprises. Gateway's spin on the product -- the 7000 Series by name -- is to make it as easy to use as a product in the home and much cheaper than the competition.

"We wanted an opportunity to be different and saw the [enterprise AP] market was pretty crowded," says Chad McDonald, who runs the networking division of Gateway's Enterprise Systems. "We saw a whole in the market for an aggressively priced, easy-to-use and setup enterprise AP -- current APs need an IT staff to install."

The 7000 Series will have two models initially, the 7001 802.11g and the dual-band 7001 802.11a+g. Both will use the Intel IPX422 network processor and come with Web-based configuration software that will let a novice cluster up to eight 7001 APs on the network. Each unit has an external 2.4GHz antenna that can be replaced with a high gain antenna (the 5GHz 802.11a antenna is internal on the dual-band unit). Security support runs from WEP, to MAC address filtering, to WPA with TKIP and AES support.

The APs will support standard virtual LANs (VLANs) for segmenting the network, but will also come with two integrated 10/100 ports so the access point can offer two actual wireless networks -- one private and one public for example.

The APs include built in RADIUS servers, which can hold settings for up to 100 users.

"Above 100 users you'd go to a dedicated RADIUS and just turn that off," says McDonald. 802.1X authentication EAP-types supported include MS-CHAP and PEAP.

Pricing is key for Gateway in this offer: the 11g model will be $299 (available today), the dual-band will be $399 (available April 13). McDonald says this puts Gateway "in the range of half the price of our competitors."

Gateway is also releasing a series of enterprise network switches this week, though they do not target the WLAN switch market. However, McDonald says wireless switches is an area the company is looking at. "We went this way initially because it's a market we can play in well, and quickly."

Gateway other forays into Wi-Fi include a line of 802.11g and 11b home networking products and the Connected DVD Players which use Wi-Fi to play digital video on the TV while stored on your PC.

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