Wireless Valley Maps RF Management

By Jim Wagner

April 27, 2005

The software maker's new product lets network managers see how their wireless networks are performing.

Site survey tool vendor Wireless Valley is launching a tool later this year to find out the true effectiveness of wireless deployments, officials said Wednesday.

The RF Manager will be tied to the Austin, Texas-based company's software suite to provide real-time information on RF activity on the wireless network, evaluate bandwidth usage, and report areas that aren't getting enough coverage, providing possible solutions to the problem.

The software is geared towards companies, hotels, airports and others that provide a wireless network for employees and customers. RF Manager gives network administrators a visual map of how access points are performing.

In addition to supporting well-known wireless communications media like Wi-Fi and CDMA , officials at Wireless Valley late last year announced they would extend support to cover emerging technologies like WiMax and RFID .

Jim Welch, Wireless Valley CEO and President, said buildings and other obstructions pose unique problems for network administrators who aren't used to wireless networks. Unlike wired networks, you can't see what's going on out there and how the wireless network is performing, he said.

"In the wired world, you put a port out and you knew you had a connection, and if you wanted more than one connection you put a hub onto it and you had five connections," Welch said. "In the wireless world you could walk into a room and you don't have any idea how many users could be there, what kind of applications they could use; it's just not visible."

The software only runs in conjunction with Wireless Valley's LANPlanner product. The software is designed to give network administrators an idea of a wireless network's performance before it's deployed, converting AutoCAD drawings or floor plan images into a two-dimensional/three-dimensional model.

The model can be adapted to reflect particular RF characteristics (i.e., walls, windows, doors) to show planners what kind of interference they can expect. Network performance is collected by the software, and can be saved and shared for use by other LAN Planner users.

Welch said the company has no plans to morph the LAN Planner and RF Manager into one product or to provide a standalone RF Manager, unless the market calls for a product merger.

Wireless Valley provides a consulting service to map out existing wireless networks, which are saved in a LAN Planner format so that companies who only buy RF Manager can import the data for use. Welch also said companies can get the information from systems integrators and the like who already use LAN Planner.

"What we've said all along, and what our product portfolio represents, is that the best way to deploy a wireless network and retain the quality of service that you need is to have both the design and management components addressed in your plans for deploying," he said.

Officials expect to launch RF Manager either late in the second or early in the third quarter.



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