Netgear Ships Affordable PoE

By Naomi Graychase

November 30, 2004

Power over Ethernet saves money over running electrical cable, but the hardware hasn't exactly been cheap itself. Netgear is hoping to change that coupling inexpensive APs with an inexpensive desktop PoE switch.

Wireless LAN deployment just got a whole lot easier for small-to-midsize businesses (SMB). Industry leader Netgear —a perennial top seller in consumer wireless equipment—announced yesterday the launch of a new set of products designed specifically with the SMB wireless market in mind.

The NETGEAR ProSafe 8 Port 10/100 Desktop Switch with 4 Port Power over Ethernet (PoE) (model: FS108P) and the NETGEAR ProSafe 802.11g Wireless Access Point (model: WG102) are designed to provide quick, easy, affordable wireless LAN options for businesses too small to seek an enterprise solution.

Netgear is getting back to its roots by reaching out to the SMB space.

"We're launching the ProSafe moniker across our entire line to differentiate the Home from the Business products," says Kevin Allan, Director of Product Marketing for Business at Netgear. "So many people equate us with retail, but our whole beginning was about having a business focus, so we're reaching into the SMB space. The FS108P and the WG102 are just another offering in our portfolio of products that help small businesses to grow."

The Santa-Clara-based company is the first in the industry to offer a desktop—that is, inexpensive—Ethernet switch with IEEE 802.3af PoE capability. The FS108P can be deployed with the WG102, a PoE enabled IEEE 802.11g-compliant access point supporting Netgear 108 Mbps mode, or separately.

"The main thing is that these can be used as standalones," says Allan. "With some of the other solutions out there, you have to buy both products for them to work together. These are standards-based. They work great together, but also any other 802.3af standard PoE should be no problem to supply the power to the access points. And other companies' access points should work well with our switch."

At roughly $700 for one switch and four access points, the price point of the FS108P and the WG102 is significantly lower than other options which SMBs can currently consider such as the so-called "wireless switch" products of companies like Aruba and Airespace. Netgear has been able to offer a lower entry price because of the high volume it does with its enterprise solutions.

"Last year we came out with a PoE that was targeting a higher-end user," says Allan. "It had a price point of around $1,500. By virtue of our ability to leverage our switch volume and how much we sell annually, we are able to take the FS108 traditional product and put in the PoE circuit for just a little bit more. Now we can offer a manageable solution to the SMB client who has maybe 20 users."

The FS108P and the Access Points are intended for indoor use only. The WG102 is compatible with a whole line of other antennas, should the user want more power.

Set-up is intended to be a breeze. "Just plug the FS108P in, and plug in your access points—maybe change the security settings or SSIDs using the Web GUI—and you're ready to go," says Allan. "The FS108P is completely unmanaged. Just turn it on and it's prepared to send data." And by utilizing PoE, the ProSafe solution eliminates the need to locate wireless access points near existing power outlets—or to pay to install new power outlets—to ensure optimum placement of the wireless connection.

Netgear ProSafe products can be purchased through value-added resellers and some retailers, including Buy.com and Amazon.com.



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