IBM High Rate Wireless LAN Gateway

By Brenda Eckbold

March 22, 2002

For any novice to the field of networking, the IBM High Rate Wireless LAN Gateway is a breeze to set up. This combo access point, 4-port switch and Internet gateway is an excellent product that will work with any Ethernet or Wi-Fi enabled product, though it's not necessarily the cheapest option available.

Model # 22P6401

For any novice to the field of networking, the IBM High Rate Wireless LAN Gateway is a breeze to set up. This combo access point, 4-port switch and Internet gateway is an excellent product that will work with any Ethernet or Wi-Fi enabled product (though the IBM Web site sometimes makes it look like only IBM Netvista and ThinkPad systems are supported) even though it's not necessarily the cheapest available.

PROS:

  • Very Fast
  • Wireless and Ethernet connectivity
  • Easy Setup
  • Built in firewall

CONS:

  • Non Stackable

The gateway is a sleek black unit approximately 1.4 inches in height and 10 inches in width. It is non-stackable due to the antenna, which is located on the back and swings upward for the wireless signal. Quick start guides and manual are available online and come with the gateway, as does one RJ-45 Ethernet patch cable to connect the 10Mbps WAN port to your DSL or cable modem. It offers a four LAN port switch running at 10/100Mbps as well as Wi-Fi-compatible wireless 802.11b access to the network for up to 63 simultaneous users.

Even non-high tech gurus will be able to set the product up via its Web browser interface. Set up is simple - enter IP address, follow the prompts, etc. The links are easy to understand so that you can easily adjust what you need. Set up takes no longer than 30 minutes to complete from the time you plug in the product. If you have your computers already set to automatically obtain IP addresses via DHCP, there is no work required for your computer to access anything.

The High Rate Wireless LAN Gateway is set to work with a Dynamic IP address and automatic DNS settings from your broadband service provider. If you have a static IP you will need to set it up before the gateway can see the Internet and allow your other computers outside access. There is no set up for the NAT firewall, which hides the IP address from the Internet. The unit also has access control, MAC cloning, Stateful Packet Inspection, IPSec VPN passthrough and PPTP passthrough, and DMZ support to expose a computer on the system to the outside world. It also supports PPPoE for DSL connections that need it.

Flashing the gateway to keep it updated (and there is already a firmware upgrade) requires that you do nothing on the network during the flash. Otherwise expect to use the software first aid kit supplied with the downloaded flash upgrade.

Setting up wireless access is also as simple as clicking a mouse, setting your network name (the default SSID is the typical "ANY"), and the wireless channel. WEP encryption available at 64 bit and 128 bit encryption levels. In the advanced settings you can set the threshold for both the 'Frags' to break up long data packets and the RTS (request to send) to prevent collisions between clients sending WLAN transmissions. There's also MAC control and a status monitor that provides almost too much information - it's for experts only.

Client setup instructions in the quick start guide are limited to the wired clients - wired clients are told to check their wireless NIC manufacturer's instructions.

The list price of the 22P6401 is $299 but IBM is already undercutting that with a price of $236 via their Web site. While not the cheapest of its kind out there, with the ease of setup this product delivers, it's worth spending the extra.



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