Until now, WLAN intelligence such as protocol software, network management and security software generally has been held on each individual access point – essentially short-range radio transmitters placed in office walls and ceilings or under desks. This has made access points expensive to buy, roll out and maintain.
A further problem has been that WLAN technologies are still maturing and many enterprises have delayed investments for fear of installing quickly outdated equipment.
But Holtsville, New York-based Symbol, which posted revenues of $1.45 billion (€1.49bn) in 2001, has now unveiled what it says is the world’s first switched-wireless networking architecture.
The switch, branded Mobius Axon, keeps WLAN intelligence centrally and reduces the functionality and cost of individual access points. It is also compatible with a range of WLAN technologies and wireless security standards.
Ray Martino, vice president of Symbol’s wireless network products, warned the immature WLAN sector that it risked alienating business customers unless it took steps to reduce cost of ownership and ease the process of upgrading systems.
“This business model has got to change. At present, the total cost of ownership is high, the cost of enterprise-class infrastructure is high, the turnover of products is high, the cost to install is high and the cost of support is also high,” he said.
Analysts at IDC believe there will be about 90 million WLAN devices in use in 2006. By then, the WLAN equipment market will be worth an estimated $7 billion (€7.2bn) and more than $40 billion (€41.3bn) will be spent on WLAN-related services.
Symbol’s new WLAN switches and access points are currently in beta testing and will be commercially available from the end of next month.